In a surprising revelation, it has come to light that Latvia is the undisclosed customer behind the recent acquisition of Cayuse Warrior light attack helicopters. On September 28, 2023, Textron Aviation Inc. of Wichita, Kansas, was awarded a $99,707,037 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of these aircraft. The contract was administered by the U.S. Army Contracting Command (ACC) at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. The Scramble reported that The contract specifies the delivery of four MD530Fs to the Latvijas Gaisa Spéki (Latvian Air Force) stationed at Lielv?rde Air Base. The project is expected to commence either in 2026 or 2027 and is set to span a minimum of two years. The information provided does not clarify whether these helicopters are newly manufactured or a potential transfer of former Afghan Air Force MD 530Fs, which are currently operated by the US Army Aviation Flight Test Directorate (AFTD) at Redstone. In a related development, aviation enthusiast Ian Carroll discovered another contract from ACC Redstone Arsenal for component repair and contracted field service in support of the Latvian Air Force’s MD530F Cayuse Warrior helicopters.
This contract also references the delivery of four MD530Fs to the Latvijas Gaisa Spéki (Latvian Air Force) stationed at Lielv?rde Air Base, with a projected start date in calendar years 2026–27 and a duration of at least two years. Again, it remains unclear whether these helicopters are new acquisitions or a transfer from the Afghan Air Force. However, given the timelines provided, it appears that Latvia has opted for newly manufactured helicopters. This undisclosed deal marks Latvia’s entry into the MD Helicopters (MDH) MD 530F Cayuse Warrior light attack rotorcraft program. The revelation was made in a notification from the US Army Contracting Command (ACC)-Redstone Arsenal, pertaining to component repair and contracted field service in support of Latvian Air Force (Latvijas Gaisa speki: LGs) MD 530F helicopters. According to the ACC-Redstone Arsenal notification, these four helicopters will be stationed at Lielvarde Air Base, and the support work is slated to continue for a minimum of two years, beginning in calendar years 2026–27. While the notification does not provide specific details regarding the helicopters being supplied to Latvia, it does confirm that they will be armed.
The MD 530F is a light helicopter manufactured by MD Helicopters (formerly McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems). It was developed as a successor to the MD 500E light utility helicopter. The MD Helicopters MD 500 series is an American family of light utility civilian and military 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. Following the 1997 Boeing-McDonnell Douglas merger, Boeing sold the former MD civil helicopter lines to MD Helicopters in early 1999. Military variants are marketed under the MD 500 Defender name. The MD 530F helicopter is a five-blade, four-passenger, single engine, single pilot capable, multipurpose aircraft specifically designed for meeting extreme requirements in hot-temperature, highaltitude operations. The MD 530F uses a single Rolls-Royce 650 shaft horsepower (shp) turboshaft engine is currently in use globally by commercial, government, and foreign military operators. The cabin is optionally compatible with night vision googles (NVGs) and also includes all the required civil and tactical communications and navigation systems. In addition, the aircraft incorporates an enhanced glass cockpit design.