AAF > MD-530F
MD-530F Helicopter flying over Kabul - Photo by NATO
Mission and Employment. The MD-530F Cayuse
Warrior is used by
the Afghan Air Force (AAF) for pilot training at Shindand Air Base in
western Afghanistan. Unarmed MD-530s are used for pilot training and
armed MD-530s are used for close air attack and aerial escort. The
Afghans refer to the helicopter as the "Jengi" (Dari).
Description. The 'F' variant of the Little Bird
is modified for hot weather and high elevations (common in Afghanistan).
Afghan air force student pilot Lt. Mohammad Wares Alavi steps out of a
MD-530 helicopter after completing his first solo flight on October 16,
at Shindand Air Base, Afghanistan. Alavi flew 50 hours with an
before his solo flight. (US Air Force photo
Photo by TSgt Quinton Russ)
Number of Aircraft. the numbers of aircraft are
hard to pin down as different NATO and U.S. documentation provide a
variety of numbers. It is believed that there were six in the 2012 era;
but there are likely a lot more than that now. Some reports indicate
that that the AAF has 18 of the MD-530Fs as of June 2016. At one time it
was reported that one MD-530F was destroyed or damaged after landing on
an IED during pilot training in Shindand.
(Resolute Support photo April 2017 Twitter Feed)
Modification with Weapons Systems. In the fall of
2014 MD Helicopters, Inc. of Mesa, Arizona was awarded a $44 million
contract 1. to modify seventeen MD
530F aircraft for the installation of a weapons system. The first armed
MD-530Fs arrived in March 2015. The helicopter is
armed with two .50 caliber machine guns. The first six armed MD-530
helicopters arrived in Afghanistan on March 18, 2015.
Mission Equipment Package (MEP). The MEP consists
of the FN Herstal Heavy Machine Gun Pod (HMP) - the M3 12.7 mm (.50
calibre) machine gun. The HMP will be carried on external weapons
planks. It has a rate of fire of 1,100 rds/min and a 400-round ammo box.
There are other equipment upgrades to include comms, fuel, and ballistic
protection for the crew.
Rockets. The MD-530Fs are also being upgraded
with air-to-surface missiles. The aircraft will be outfitted with
seven-tube M260 launcher for the 70mm (2.75 inch) rockets under a US
$13.2 million contract awarded by the U.S. Army.
Arrival of the first six armed MD-530 Helicopters on 18 Mar 2015
by 438th Air Expeditionary Wing)
News Reports of the MD-530 Helicopter
August 25, 2016.
"The MD-530 Experience", DVIDS. A first person account of flying in
a MD-530 Cayuse Warrior helicopter.
June 17, 2016.
"Afghan Air Force gets new helicopters, capability", DVIDS.
Five new MD-530 Cayuse Warrior helicopters arrived in Afghanistan in
June 2016. These new helicopters have the capablity to fire rockets or
.50-caliber machine guns. These five new helicopters increase the AAF
inventory from 13 to 18 MD-530s. The MD-530s support ANA troops on the
ground and escort AAF Mi-17s in the air. The MD-530 costs about $5
million each and is purchased using the Afghan Security Forces Fund
(ASFF). By the end of August 2016, the AAF is scheduled to receive nine
more MD-530s for a total strength of 27.
January 12, 2016.
"Afghan Air Force to receive 12 warrior helicopters from US",
"MD-530 "Jengi" helicopters depart Kabul for first expeditionary
operations in Helmand". Khaama Press. U.S. Air Force Lt.
Col. Jim Abbott, an MD-430 advisor at
Train, Advise, Assist Command - Air (TAAC-Air) provides us with some
background info on the MD-530.
October 1, 2015.
"MD refutes Afghan MD 530F criticisms". Shepard Media.
September 28, 2015.
"Afghanistan's Newest Attack Helicopter a Total Mess?". by
Franz-Stefan Gady in The Diplomat. Afghanistan's most decorated
pilot is critical of U.S. efforts to help build the Afghan Air Force.
August 14, 2015.
"Afghan Air Force to Receive 5 More Attack Helicopters". The
August 12, 2015.
"MD Helicopters' Cayuse Warrior enters combat in Afghanistan".
April 12, 2015.
"Afghanistan rolls out armed MD 530F helos". IHS Jane's 360.
(return to top of page)
1. See DoD Contract
News Release dated October 1, 2014 (No. CR-189-14) for
specifications on the modification of seventeen MD-530F helicopters.
2. The date (Mar 18, 2015) of the arrival of the
first six armed MD-530 helicopters is provided in a
Facebook posting by the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing. See additional
photos of the arrival on 438th AEW
3. Info taken from a Jane's 360
news article dated March 18, 2015.
4. For more on the MD-530F rockets see "Afghan
Air Force to Get Rocket Equipped MD 530F Helicotpers", Defense
World.net, July 14, 2015.