MD Helicopters completed delivery of 12 MD 530F light scout/attack helicopters to Afghanistan, fulfilling an October 2015 follow-on contract from the U.S. Army Non-Standard Rotary Wing Program Office. The helicopters bring to 27 the number of armed MD 530F Cayuse Warriors in service with the Afghan Air Force (AAF).
Afghan pilots started training on six MD 530F primary rotary-wing trainers at Shindand Air Base, Afghanistan, in late 2011 under the guidance of Army Security Assistance Training Management Organization and contract pilots. In September and October 2014, the Army Contracting Command awarded MD Helicopters contracts to build and arm 12 new MD 530Fs fitted with two FN Herstal .50 caliber machine gun pods.
Earlier this year, MD Helicopters announced that the Army had placed a follow-on order for 12 additional Cayuse Warriors equipped with an enhanced mission package that includes an M260 rocket pod and a Dillon Aero sighting system. The manufacturer was to retrofit previously delivered MD 530Fs to the new configuration.
On August 25, the final four MD 530Fs of the follow-on order were delivered to Hamid Karzai International Airport outside of Kabul via a C-17 Globemaster III airlifter from Travis Air Force Base, Calif. Representatives of the NATO Train, Advise, Assist Command (TAAC-Air), the AAF and contractors received the helicopters, according to the U.S. Air Force. Brig. Gen. David Hicks, who commands the USAF’s 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, is also the commanding general of TAAC-Air, which advises the Afghan service.
“AAF MD 530 pilots are positively impacting counter-insurgency operations daily across Afghanistan,” stated Col. Troy Henderson, with the 438th wing. “Despite being based at Kabul, MD 530 operations have expanded to support south, central and eastern Afghanistan. Today’s delivery of the final four will help support operations in northern Afghanistan.”
In a press release marking the final delivery, MD Helicopters CEO Lynn Tilton said: “The versatility of this aircraft for attack, scout and escort missions has been proven in theater since the first Cayuse Warriors arrived in Kabul in 2015. Whether as a primary training helicopter or when delivering a critical fast-attack capability to support the Afghan National Army’s ground fight, the MD 530F Cayuse Warrior plays a significant role in the war on terror, and the protection of both U.S. and Allied forces.”
The USAF has also delivered eight Embraer A-29 Super Tucanos to the Afghanistan under the Light Air Support program, which calls for supplying 20 of the close air support turboprops to the AAF.