Helicopters Magazine

MD Helicopters wins major deal from Afghan air force

October 10, 2014  By Carey Fredericks

Oct. 10, 2014, Mesa, Az. - MD Helicopters has been awarded a firm fixed price contract valued at $44.2 million for the procurement, installation, integration and testing of Mission Equipment Package (MEP) weapon systems onto seventeen (17) MD 530F helicopters.

All testing and modification of the seventeen aircraft fleet will occur at MD Helicopters’ Mesa, Arizona facility. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal will manage the contract on behalf of the Afghan Air Force.

An evolution of the fabled OH-6 Cayuse light observation helicopter, the MD 530F is world renowned as a fast, reliable high-altitude, hot-day performer. The Afghan Air Force (AAF) has operated five MD 530F helicopters in the performance of initial entry rotary wing training since 2011. An Option Award on 19 September 2014 expanded the AAF fleet to seventeen MD 530Fs.

With this contract to integrate Mission Equipment Packages on the full complement of MD 530Fs, the U.S. Army and the Afghan Air Force, in response to the drawdown of coalition forces in the region, have taken the next step in developing a formidable close attack capability to support the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF); thereby delivering a critical operational capability requirement identified by the International Security Assistance Force-Afghanistan (ISAF-A).

“The OH-6 Cayuse has been recognized as an icon of the Army’s rotary wing fleet for nearly 50 years,” said MD Helicopters’ Chief Executive Officer Lynn Tilton, “From its ability to perform fast, difficult maneuvers in compact space, to its unmatched safety record, the MD 530F is a mission proven performer in its own right. The armed MD 530F Cayuse Warrior will be force multiplier for the Afghan Air Force. Perfectly suited for the demands of modern warfare, the Cayuse Warrior fleet will expand armed escort, scout attack and close air attack capabilities in support of an increasing operational tempo in the region. We are honored to have been selected to deliver this enhanced capability.”


The armed MD 530F Cayuse Warrior will feature performance enhancements and a custom mission equipment package that includes:

  • FAA-certified high-capacity landing gear that allows take-off and landing with a maximum weight of 3,750lbs through the incorporation of jettisonable external stores
  • FN HMP400 LCC (Links & Case Collector) and machine gun pod featuring FN M3P™ .50 Cal Machine guns from FN Herstal, S.A.
  • Mace Aviation Extended Rage Weapons Wing (ER2W)
  • Rhode & Schwarz M3AR tactical radio communications solution
  •  Robertson Fuel System
  • Kinetic Defense ballistic armor panels

In anticipation of this effort, MDHI has already engaged strategic suppliers to procure all required mission equipment.

“The FN HMP400™ pod is a unique “all-in-one” weapon system, featuring the 1,100 RPM FN M3P (.50 cal) machine gun, a 400 round ammo box, a firing solenoid and a re-cocking actuator, all mounted within an aluminum and composite frame assembly,” says Anne Devroye, Product Communication Manager for FN Herstal. “The pod is connected to the MD 530F through 14 inch NATO suspension lugs allowing the helicopter to be mission ready in less than 30 seconds.”


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