MD Helicopters’ MD 540F armed scout helicopter made its debut at Heli-Expo this week in Las Vegas. The new model replaces its predecessor MD 530F’s Rolls-Royce 250-C30 turboshaft with the new M250-C47E, which offers dual-channel Fadec and boosts available rated takeoff power to 700 shp.
The uprated engine is attached to a new six-blade, articulating composite main rotor with blades provided by Van Horn Aviation. That package improves the aircraft’s performance in hot/high conditions, with the MD 540F expected to hover at 6,000 feet at 95 degrees F with a full avionics and weapons package. It also permits a projected service ceiling of 20,000 feet with a maximum external gross weight of 4,100 pounds. Landing skids from the MD 600N help to accommodate the heavier payloads, while a sophisticated helmet display and tracking system provides enhanced sighting and situational awareness to the flight crew.
The company targets FAA certification for a commercial MD 540F variant in late 2015 or early 2016, though the helicopter’s true mission is expected to be in a military capacity. Four external stations are available to mount a variety of weapons systems, including a .50-caliber cannon (successfully test-fired on the aircraft last month), 70-mm Hydra rockets, a 7.62-mm minigun, laser-guided rockets and Hellfire missiles.