Jan 23, 2015
Afghanistan to receive additional armed MD 530F helos
The United States is to donate the 20 armed MD 530F helicopters in addition to those unarmed platforms already fielded as trainers.
Afghanistan has five MD 530F trainer helicopters in service. It would seem that a further eight platforms have now been added to this follow-on order.
The MD 530Fs will be equipped with gun pods and rockets, and will be armoured to protect the two crew members. The weapons package will comprise the FN Herstal Heavy Machine Gun Pod (HMP), featuring the company's M3 12.7 mm (.50 calibre) machine gun. This HMP, which will be carried on external weapons planks, has a rate of fire of 1,100 rds/min and a 400-round ammunition box.
To accommodate the extra weight of this equipment, the helicopters will be upgraded with high-capacity landing gear.
Work to weaponise these helicopters will commence shortly. Deliveries to Afghanistan are expected to begin later in the year. Once in service, these armed MD 530F platforms will provide fire-support alongside the machine-gun-equipped Mil Mi-17 'Hip' and machine gun and rocket-equipped Mi-35 'Hind' helicopters, as well as the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano light attack turboprop aircraft, due to arrive towards the end of 2015.
The MD 530F is the latest in a line of MD 500-series helicopters that trace their lineage back to the Hughes OH-6 Cayuse of the Vietnam War.