MD Helicopters (MDHI) has handed over the first batch of six weaponised MD 530F Cayuse Warrior scout attack helicopters to the Afghan Air Force (AAF) in Kabul, Afghanistan.
In October 2014, the company received a $44.2m firm fixed price contract from the US Army contracting command to integrate mission equipment packages (MEP) on AAF’s 17 MD 530F Cayuse Warrior gunships.
MD Helicopters owner and chief executive Lynn Tilton said: "MD 500 Series helicopters have been a staple in US and foreign military fleets for decades.
"I am thrilled to see the Cayuse Warrior arrive safely in Kabul to begin its service with the Afghan Air Force, and I am indelibly proud of my team on the ground for their feat of rapid build and delivery to meet an urgent and compelling need."
The armed helicopters feature a FN HMP400 links and case collector and machine gun pod featuring FN M3P .50 Cal machine guns, mace aviation extended rage weapons wing (ER2W), a M3AR tactical radio communications solution, and Robertson fuel system.
In addition, the helicopters are also equipped with Kinetic Defense ballistic armour panels, and a Federal Aviation Administration-certified high-capacity landing gear that enables takeoff and landing with a maximum weight of 3,750lb through incorporation of jettisonable external stores.
The gunships are expected to enhance the fire capability of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces by nearly six times for fighting season 2015.
The second batch comprises a further six helicopters. It is scheduled to be delivered to the AAF in the next few months.
MDHI also secured a $31.6m contract modification to provide logistic support including continuous maintenance and support services, and an initial spares support package, for AAF’s additional 12 MD530F helicopters.
Tilton said: "The current MD 530F fleet in service with the Afghan Air Force has logged nearly 6,000 flight hours and maintained operational availability of better than 98%, since we first began providing contracted logistics support in 2011.
"This new award will allow MD to continue to support top-tier operational readiness in the face of increasing requirements from escalating threat levels."
Work under the contract is scheduled to run until August of this year.
Image: Afghan Airman standing in front of an armed MD 530F Cayuse Warrior scout attack helicopter in Kabul. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. J LaVoie / Released.