The MCAS-500 Mission Configurable Aircraft System provides an exceptional armament solution for the MD500 series of helicopters. The MD 500 series is an American family of light utility civilian and military helicopters developed by MD Helicopters. The MD 500 was developed from the Hughes 500, a civilian version of the US Army’s OH-6A Cayuse/Loach. The series currently includes the MD 500E, MD 520N, and MD 530F. Production of the type was continued into the twenty-first century by Hughes’ successor companies, McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems, and subsequently MD Helicopters. While the MD 500 series has been largely operated by civil customers, it has occasionally seen military use, even to the extent of performing front line combat operations.
Years of direct, hands-on experience coupled with exceptional engineering has produced an armament platform that is lighter, more capable, and easier to support than other systems currently available. Airframe sustainability and useful load benefit from the decreased overall weight; generally 70 pounds compared to legacy systems. The aircraft can now carry more ammunition, fuel, or additional weapons systems. To allow for faster reload times and diminish stress on crew, lift height has been reduced with added smooth, obstruction-free magazine rails. Cables are routed through fairings providing protection from the environment, and a pass-through within the center section allows flex chuting to be mounted completely underneath the wing, eliminating interference during arming.
In the attack configuration, depending on the mission profile the user has endless configuration options utilizing up to 6 weapon stations. MCAS-500 AH can easily and quickly be configured for AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missile (AGM), M134 7.62×51mm NATO six-barrel rotary machine gun (MiniGun), GAU-19B three-barrel rotary heavy machine gun (GECAL 50), HMP-400 lightweight gun pod, M260, or M261 M260 lightweight rocket launchers based on mission requirements. The outer wing sections are capable of Smart Weapon Enhancements such as the Raytheon Griffin® B launcher. MCAS supports any combination of 3000 or 1500 round 7.62mm magazines, and/or 600 round .50 caliber magazines. All of the lightweight magazines have an identical footprint that lock into common points.
In the assault configuration, MCAS-MH can easily be configured to attach a machine gun, mount, and pintle-arm, caving ladder, FLIR System Electronics Unit (SEU), and ground handling wheel mount. Additionally, the system incorporates up to six removable mounting lugs coupled with additional mounting provisions. The MCAS-MH (External Personnel Systems) stow to reduce the lateral dimension, resulting in easier transport and a reduced hangar footprint. Damage-prone areas are easily replaced in the field; it is not necessary to replace an entire plank because of localized damage. The MCAS-MH lightweight plank is interchangeable between aircraft; with complete interchangeability between airframes, there is no need for aircraft tail number specific hardware.