The Afghan Air Force (AAF) has taken delivery of its last four MD-530 Cayuse Warrior helicopters from the US Air Force (USAF), bringing the total number of MD-530s to 27.
The helicopters armed with fire rockets or 0.50-calibre machine guns were flown to Afghanistan from Travis Air Force Base in California aboard a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.
USAF 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron commander lieutenant colonel Bill Ashford said that these attack helicopters also feature a new sighting system that was not present on the initial 13 helicopters.
Ashford added: “The first 13 helicopters continue to be modified to support 2.75-inch rocket capabilities and add the improved sighting systems.”
The 9.8m-long and 2.6m-high helicopter is an armed variant of the OH-6 Cayuse light observation helicopter built by MD Helicopters.
This multipurpose armed helicopter improves scout attack, armed escort and close air attack capabilities of the Afghan Air Force.
438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group commander colonel Troy Henderson said: “AAF MD-530 pilots are positively impacting counter-insurgency operations daily across Afghanistan.
“Despite being based at Kabul, MD-530 operations have expanded to support south, central and eastern Afghanistan.
“The MD-530's size enables the AAF to use their C-130s to transport where they are needed.
“They have great manoeuvrability and capable weapon systems to target a variety of enemy targets.
"Their presence in Afghanistan has been critical to neutralising insurgent operations.”
The MD-530 can be deployed in tactical, reconnaissance and transport operations, as well as carry out airborne law enforcement, executive and personnel transport, air medical services, search-and-rescue (SAR), firefighting and other public safety missions.
Image: Four new MD-530 Cayuse Warrior helicopters arrive at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Christopher Holmes.