The Afghan Air Force (AAF) has received the first five of 30 new MD Helicopters Inc (MDHI) MD 530F Cayuse Warrior light attack and reconnaissance rotorcraft that were ordered 12 months ago, the manufacturer announced Monday. Ordered against MDHI’s 5-year, $1.4 billion IDIQ, these aircraft are the first of 30 new MD 530F Cayuse Warrior helicopters that will join the AAF Aviation Unit this year. Delivered in less than 10 months from the September 2017 contract award, the first five aircraft reached Kandahar on August 8, 2018, and were readied for active service in less than 10 days. The helicopters arrived at Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan aboard a US Air Force (USAF) Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft.
These MD 530Fs will be reassembled and tested over the next 10 days before being handed over to the Afghan Air Force (AAF) for operations alongside the 25 helicopters delivered from 2011 to 2016 (a further two delivered, but one was subsequently lost to an improvised explosive device and the other to an accident). The remaining 25 helicopters from this latest order will be delivered over the next 12 months, for a final AAF fleet of 55. The MD 530Fs are part of a wider US Department of Defense (DoD) order for 150 MD 530F/MD 530G platforms to equip allied air arms
While the previously delivered MD 530Fs Jengi (Warrior) in AAF service were equipped with a standard avionics. These aircraft are the first of a new generation of MD 530F Cayuse Warriors with MDHI’s newly certified glass cockpit that includes, Howell Instruments Electronic Engine Instruments and Crew Alert System (EICAS),Garmin G500[H] TXi Electronic Flight Instruments (EFIS) with Touchscreen GDU 700P PFD/MFD, Garmin GTN 650 Touchscreen NAV/COM/GPS and L-3 ESI 500 Electronic Standby Instrument. Mission Equipment enhancements for the MD 530F Cayuse Warrior also consist of a ballistically tolerant crashworthy fuel system, including both the main fuel tank and a 38-gallon Auxiliary Fuel Tank.
All Afghan Air Force MD 530Fs are fitted with the Enhanced Mission Equipment Package (EMEP). The baseline Mission Equipment Package (MEP) comprises the FN Herstal Heavy Machine Gun Pod (HMP) that features the company’s M3 12.7 mm (.50 calibre) machine gun. The weapon system supports all types of 12.7mm x 99mm Nato ammunition rounds. The helicopter can also be attached with Mace Aviation-developed Extended Range Weapons Wing (ER2W), which has four weapons stations and a 35gal internal fuel tank. The helicopters will be equipped with air-to-surface rockets in a bid to further boost the close air support capabilities of the air force.