The United States Embassy in Lebanon has handed over six MD-530F+ light attack helicopters to Lebanon. The helicopter were handed over to the Lebanese Air Force (LAF, Al Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Lubnaniyyatl) at Hamat Airbase. The MD-530F+ light attack helicopters arrived at Beirut Air Base on a Boeing 747 cargo plane as part of a $120 million US military aid package signed between the US and Lebanon in 2017. Since 2017, the U.S. military teams have worked closely with the LAF to ensure the capabilities of these aircrafts would fill mission requirements and enhance the operational capacity of the LAF in providing for Lebanon’s security. This helicopter is the first light attack helicopter of its kind to integrate APKWS missiles and live downlink of targeting data.
The United States is at the top of the list of nations backing the Lebanese army. Since 2005, the United States has provided Lebanon with more than $2.5 billion in aid in the struggle against Hezbollah and other Islamist groups. The U.S. recently announced an additional $67 million in annual Foreign Military Financing support for this year 2021. Both the helicopter delivery and training graduation, represent the enduring partnership between Lebanon and the United States. The Lebanese Air Force successfully completed their first training class at MD Helicopters, Inc. (MDHI) Flight Training Academy. This was the first of three classes that included pilots, maintainers, and armament personnel, which took place in Mesa, Arizona, and an off-site location for gunnery training. Although travel restrictions have increased due to COVID-19, MDHI remains open for training customers both in the hangar and the classroom.
Tactical training included single ship and team tactics and culminated with day/NVG aerial gunnery utilizing the customer’s pilots, maintainers, and armament personnel, training as they would in combat. Additional training was conducted for the instructor and maintenance test pilots, and supplemental quality control classes allowed the customer to become more familiar with both flying and maintaining the aircraft. Utilizing the Lebanese Air Force’s MD 530Fs for the training allowed the customer to become comfortable in their own aircraft and ensure the aircraft will maintain a high rate of readiness during all phases of training and after delivery. Pilot training consisted of aircraft qualification, including touchdown emergency procedure training, basic combat skills, and tactics conducted during daylight and night time utilizing night vision goggles (NVG).
Designed and manufactured by MD Helicopters, the MD-530Fs are light, multi-role, fast and extremely agile single-engine helicopters. The MD-530F is powered by a Rolls-Royce 250-C30 engine that produces 650 shaft horsepower. The light helicopter has a top speed of 248 kilometers per hour, a range of 430 kilometers, and a service ceiling of 5,700 meters. The MD-530F is 9.8 meters long, 2.6 meters tall, and has a main rotor diameter of 8.38 meters. It has a maximum gross takeoff weight of 1,406 kilograms and a curb weight of 722 kilograms.It is ideal for a variety of missions such as policing/security, tactical reconnaissance, border patrol, light attack, search and rescue (SAR), armed patrol, and special forces unit deployment. These helicopters, which have a single or two-person crew, can carry up to five people.