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August 13, 2015

Afghan Air Force to convert its unarmed MD-530F to light attack gunships

The Afghan Air Force (AAF) is reportedly planning to retrofit its unarmed MD-530F helicopters with the enhanced mission equipment package (EMEP) in order to convert them to light attack aircraft.

By Samseer M

The Afghan Air Force (AAF) is reportedly planning to retrofit its unarmed MD-530F helicopters with the enhanced mission equipment package (EMEP) in order to convert them to light attack aircraft.

Work under this programme will be carried out by MD Helicopters at its facility in Mesa, Arizona, US.

IHS Janes reported citing a company spokesperson that the retrofitted helicopters, which are expected to return to the force in early-2016, will join 12 armed MD 530F Cayuse Warrior helicopters.

"The gunships are expected to enhance the fire capability of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces by nearly six times."

The AAF received the first batch of six weaponised MD 530F Cayuse Warrior scout attack helicopters from MD Helicopters in March this year.

In addition, the AAF recently deployed the MD-530 helicopters during an operation in eastern Nangarhar province of the country.

With EMEP, the helicopters will feature twin FN Herstal 12.7 mm heavy machine gun pods (HMPs), the Rhode & Schwarz M3AR tactical radio communications system, the Robertson Fuel System.

It will also have Kinetic Defense ballistic armour panels for the two-person crew and the M260 air-to-surface rocket launcher.

The retrofitted helicopter will benefit from an HMP fitted on one side while a seven-tube M260 launcher equipped on the other side.

Meanwhile, the newly delivered MD-530Fs feature a FN HMP400 links and case collector and machine gun pod featuring FN M3P .50 calibre machine guns, mace aviation extended rage weapons wing (ER2W), a M3AR tactical radio communications solution, and Robertson fuel system.

The gunships are expected to enhance the fire capability of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces by nearly six times.

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