A FURTHER batch of enhanced MD530F Cayuse Warriors have recently been delivered to the Afghan Air Force (AAF) as airfreight. MD Helicopters Inc (MDHI) announced on February 20 that they had been shipped to Afghanistan a few weeks earlier on board a cargo-configured Boeing 747. Images released by the manufacturer show that they comprised eight helicopters, of which 287 (c/n 0287FF, ex N6087K), 289 (c/n 0289FF, ex N6089L), 290 (c/n 0290FF, ex N6090G) and 293 (c/n 0293FF, ex N6093D) can be identified from the photographs. These were all cancelled from the US register on February 12, along with 281 (c/n 0281FF, ex N60881), 286 (c/n 0286FF, ex N6086Z), 288 (c/n 0288FF, ex N6063X), 292 (c/n 0292FF, ex N6092N), which are assumed to be the other four delivered in this batch.
This was the third batch of an enhanced version of the MD530F to be delivered to the AAF, following on from 29 of an earlier version of the type previously acquired. The first batch of five of the enhanced variant arrived at Kandahar, Afghanistan, on August 8 last year on board a USAF C-17A. This shipment comprised 275 (c/n 0275FF, ex N6075U), 276 (c/n 0276FF, ex N60762), 277 (c/n 0277FF, ex N6077V), 278 (c/n 0278FF, ex N6089N) and 279 (c/n 0279FF, ex N6092Z). They were cancelled from the US register on August 10, 9, 10, 8 and 9, 2018, respectively.
A second shipment was announced by MDHI on December 19. This also involved five helicopters, comprising 280 (c/n 0280FF, ex N6090J), 282 (c/n 0282FF, ex N6082A), 283 (c/n 0283FF, ex N6093U), 284 (c/n 0284FF, ex N6084Z) and 285 (c/n 0285FF, ex N6045R). All were cancelled from the US register on December 6, 2018.
The latest arrivals bring the total number of the enhanced version delivered to date to 18, out of a total of 30 scheduled to join the AAF. As previously reported on Warnsey’s World, these were ordered as part of a much larger $1.4 billion contract awarded to MDHI on September 5, 2017, for an eventual total of up to 150 armed MD530Fs for Foreign Military Sales customers.
The Afghan helicopters are the first to be configured with MDHI’s recently certified Block 1 glass cockpit, featuring Garmin GDU 620 electronic flight instruments, Garmin GTN 650H communication/navigation/global positioning system (COM/NAV/GPS), Northern Airborne Technology cabin audio system and the Howell Instruments Engine Instrumentation System. MDH says that deliveries on the Afghan delivery order will be completed by September 2019.
Mission equipment for these aircraft will include a ballistic crash-worthy fuel system, consisting of a main fuel tank and a 38 gallon auxiliary fuel tank, high capacity undercarriage, FN Herstal weapons management system, DillonAero Mission Configurable Armament System (MCAS) weapons plank and Fixed-Forward Sighting System, Rohde & Schwarz M3AR tactical mission radio, FN Herstal .50 caliber HMP 400 machine gun pods and M260 7-shot rocket pods.