New Attack Helicopters for Lebanon and Kenya

 - October 2, 2018, 12:24 PM
MDHI's MD 530G demonstrator is seen undergoing reloading trials. The machine carries FN Herstal's RMP pod that combines an M3P 0.5-inch machine gun with three rocket pods. (photo: MD Helicopters)

On October 1, MD Helicopters (MDHI) announced an order for six MD 530G Scout Attack Helicopters from the Lebanon Air Force, days after it had announced an order for the MD 530F from Kenya. Included in both deals are initial logistics support, ground support equipment, and associated services.

The MD 530G to be received by Lebanon is the latest version of the family, with various improvements over the MD 530F, including advanced avionics. The “glass” cockpit is based on two IDU-680 six- by nine-inch LCD displays from Genesys Aerosystems, with the Pathfinder mission management and Ares weapons management systems from Tek Fusion Global presenting data on two side-mounted mission displays. Thales Scorpion helmet-mounted cueing systems are installed, and the helicopter has an L3 Wescam MX-10 electro-optical turret. Lebanon’s aircraft will feature Harris Falcon III RF-7850A-MR multi-channel airborne networking radios with advanced encryption.

The cockpit is protected against ballistic threats of up to 7.62 mm caliber, and the aircraft has a crashworthy fuel system. Weaponry includes the DillonAero MCAS (mission-configurable armament system) that can mount various stores, including HMP 0.50 caliber gun pods from FN Herstal, and M260 seven-round rocket pods that can be armed with BAE Systems APKWS 2.75-inch laser-guided rockets.

Lebanon is the second country to acquire the MD 530G, Malaysia having ordered the type in a direct sale from the manufacturer. Lebanon’s aircraft are being purchased as part of a five-year IDIQ (indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity) contract that MDHI has with the U.S. Army’s Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. Worth around $1.4 billion, the contract provides for about 150 MD 530s for U.S. and partner nations. A U.S. Army airworthiness release is expected in December 2019, with the Lebanese aircraft to be delivered by the end of 2020.

Afghanistan was the first beneficiary of the IDIQ, ordering a new batch of 30 MD 530F Cayuse Warriors in September 2017. The first five of them were delivered in August 2018. They feature a newly certified enhanced cockpit. Days before the Lebanon announcement, MDHI detailed another order received via the IDIQ contract, covering six MD 530Fs for the Kenyan Defence Forces. Kenya is no stranger to the MD 500 family, having operated the earlier MD 500 Defender generation for some years. Deliveries should begin in April 2019 and be complete by August. With the two recent orders the number of helicopters through the IDIQ rises to 42.

Kenya’s machines will have the “glass” cockpits based on the Garmin G500 system, a crashworthy fuel system, FN Herstal weapon management system, DillonAero MCAS and fixed-forward sighting system, armor protection, HMP 400 machine gun pods, and M260 rocket pods. The communications system includes the Harris RF-7850A tactical radio and HF-9000D from Rockwell Collins.