MD Helicopters (MDHI) has secured a contract to weaponise the Afghan Air Force’s (AAF) MD 530F Cayuse Warrior helicopters fleet.
Awarded by the US Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, the $44.2m firm fixed price contract covers procurement, installation, integration and testing of mission equipment package (MEP) weapon systems onto a total of 17 helicopters.
MD Helicopters chief executive officer Lynn Tilton said: "From its ability to perform fast, difficult manoeuvres 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."
Under the contract, the company will install an 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 Rhode & Schwarz M3AR tactical radio communications solution, and Robertson fuel system.
In addition to this, the helicopters will be 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.
FN Herstal product communication manager Anne Devroye said: "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.
"The pod is connected to the MD 530F through 14in Nato suspension lugs allowing the helicopter to be mission ready in less than 30 seconds."
Weapons systems integration and testing would be undertaken at the company’s facility in Mesa, Arizona, US, from November 2014, while the aircraft deliveries are scheduled to be completed by September 2015.
The contract represents the next step in developing a formidable close attack capability to support the Afghan National Security Forces, thereby delivering a critical operational capability requirement identified by the International Security Assistance Force-Afghanistan.