MD-530F is a multi-purpose light attack and reconnaissance helicopter manufactured by MD Helicopters, Inc. (MDHI), an aerospace company based in the US. It is designed to enhance scout attack, armed escort, and close air attack capabilities of the air forces.
The multi-purpose armed helicopter can be deployed in tactical, reconnaissance, and transport operations. It can also carry out airborne law enforcement, executive and personnel transport, air medical services, search-and-rescue (SAR), firefighting, and other public safety missions.
MDHI received the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification to increase the helicopter’s maximum gross take-off weight from 1,406kg to 1,519kg in August 2020.
MD 530F design and features
The MD 530F armed light attack helicopter is an improved version of the OH-6 Cayuse light observation helicopter. It features modular design and FAA-certified, high-capacity, extended landing gear. The airframe is attached with tinted doors and windows on the left and right sides.
Its main rotor system consists of five fully articulated foldable blades, while the tail rotor system features two blades. The main rotor diameter is 8.38m and the tail rotor diameter is 1.55m.
The helicopter is 9.8m-long, 2.6m-high, and the diameter of its main rotor diameter is 8.38m. Its empty weight is 722kg and the maximum gross take-off weight is 1,406kg.
MD 530F can carry a useful load of 684kg, an external load of 979kg and a fuel load of 183kg. It is equipped with teardrop-shaped fuselage, which measures 7.04m-long and 1.4m-wide. The forward section of the fuselage contains cockpit and cabin compartments, while the lower section houses two fuel cells.
The cabin compartment provides seating for one pilot, one co-pilot, and up to three personnel. Crew seats are fitted with four-point restraint harness system and the passenger seats feature three-point restraint system.
The interior is equipped with fire extinguisher, soundproofing system, map case, instrument lighting, a 17Ah heavy-duty Marathon battery, ventilation system, LH rotor brake, and vinyl and fabric cushions. The interior trim panels feature vinyl material.
MD 530F also features tinted canopy panels, two anti-collision lights, jacking fittings, fuselage hard points, rain gutter set and position lights.
Armament of MD 530F Cayuse Warrior
The MD 530F Cayuse Warrior helicopter is armed with FN HMP400 LCC (links and case collector) coaxial airborne weapon system developed by FN Herstal. The machine gun pod features .50cal FN M3P machine gun. Its weapon system supports all types of 12.7mm x 99mm Nato ammunition rounds.
FN HMP400 has a fully loaded weight of 138kg and ammunition storage capacity of 400 rounds. The weapon system can fire at a rate of around 1,100 rounds a minute.
The helicopter can also be attached with Mace Aviation-developed Extended Range Weapons Wing (ER2W), which has four weapons stations and a 35gal internal fuel tank.
Avionics and communications aboard MD 530F
MD 530F helicopter features T-shaped instrument panel installed with an avionics suite, Garmin G500H dual-screen flight display, night-vision-goggle (NVG) devices, and dual LH command flight controls.
The Cayuse Warrior helicopter is also equipped with Rhode & Schwarz M3AR tactical radio communications solution with a frequency range from 30MHz to 400MHz.
MD 530F engine and performance
MD 530F helicopter is driven by Rolls-Royce 250-C30 turboshaft engine, which generates a power of 485kW. It has a take-off power of 317kW and maximum continuous power of 280kW.
The helicopter can fly at a maximum cruise speed of 248km/h and has a maximum range of 430km and service ceiling of 5,700m. It climbs at a rate of 10.5m/s and can endure airborne for more than two hours. The hover-in-ground effect (HIGE) and the hover-out-of-ground effect (HOGE) are 4,877m and 4,389m respectively.
Orders and deliveries of MD 530F
The Afghan Air Force has deployed MD 530F helicopters in the Rotary Wing Flight Training programme since 2011, which was conducted by the US Army Security Assistance Training Management Organization in Shindand.
The US Army’s Non-Standard Rotary Wing Aircraft Project Office awarded a firm fixed price contract to MDHI in September 2014 to manufacture and deliver an additional 12 MD 530F helicopters to support the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).
Six MD 530Fs were delivered in March 2015, while the remaining helicopters were handed over in summer 2015.
In October 2014, MDHI was awarded a firm fixed price contract worth $44.2m by the US Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal to procure, install, integrate, and test Mission Equipment Package (MEP) weapon systems for 17 MD 530F helicopters. The integration and testing were performed at MDHI’s facility in Mesa, Arizona.
MDHI was awarded a $31.6m firm fixed-price modification contract to provide maintenance and support services for 12 MD530Fs in March 2015, which were delivered to the Afghan Air Force (AAF) later that year.
The company received a firm fixed price contract to deliver 12 MD 530F Cayuse Warrior Scout Attack Helicopters to the AAF in January 2016.
A $1.4bn contract was secured from the US Army in September 2017 for the delivery of 150 MD 530 helicopters and support services to army aviation forces of the US and partner nations over a period of five years. The contract supports the foreign military sales (FMS) opportunities of the US Army.
Initial delivery of the contract included the supply of 30 MD 530F helicopters to AAF. The first deliveries were made to the AAF in September 2018, while the remaining deliveries were concluded in November 2019.
In September 2018, MDHI received the second delivery order under the $1.4bn contract for the delivery of six armed helicopters and initial logistics support to the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF). The US government handed over the six MD-530F Cayuse helicopters to the Kenya Army’s Joint Helicopter Command (JHC) at Embakasi Barracks in Nairobi, Kenya, in January 2020. The six helicopters are part of a total of 12 MD 530F aircraft approved for sale to Kenya under the US government’s FMS programme in May 2017.
The fourth delivery order against the $1.4bn contract was awarded to the company in November 2019. It includes the delivery of up to 12 additional MD 530F helicopters to the AAF.
The company received a contract worth $6.1m to retrofit 18 legacy MD 530F helicopters of the AAF with ballistic-tolerant crashworthy fuel systems (CWFS) in October 2020. The 59gal CWFS, which was developed in collaboration with crashworthy, self-sealing, and ballistically tolerant fuel systems manufacturer Robertson Fuel Systems, provides enhanced safety and survivability. The system comprises crash-worthy bladders, ballistically self-sealing fuel cells, and gravity fed auxiliary fuel transfer. A contract modification awarded during the same month included the provision of training and equipment supply for the Lebanese Air Force.
MDHI and the US Army signed an agreement worth $34m to continue its contractor logistics support for Afghanistan’s MD 530F Cayuse Warrior helicopter fleet in December 2020.
The US Army Contracting Command-Redstone awarded two contracts worth $43.9m to the company to support the AAF’s MD 530F fleet between May 2021 and June 2021. The first contract, which was awarded in May 2021, was a six-month extension worth $14.5m for providing programme management and contractor logistic support services, material, and remote operations.
Awarded in June 2021, the second contract worth $29.4m was a modification to the original maintenance capabilities support contract. The six-month contract requires MD Helicopters to provide continued maintenance, repairs, updates, and overhauls.
The Lebanese Air Force received six MD 530F+ light attack helicopters worth more than $40m from the US in November 2021. The MD 530F+ is armed with advanced precision kill weapon system (APKWS) missiles for enhanced combat capabilities. It also provides live downlink of the targeting data.