FOUR NEW MD530 Cayuse Warrior helicopters arrived at Kabul-Hamid Karzai International Airport on August 25, 2016, aboard a C-17 Globemaster III from Travis Air Force Base, California.
They are the final four of the current order for the Afghan Air Force (AAF) and bring the AAF’s MD530 fleet total to 27. Members of Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air (TAAC-Air), AAF personnel and contractors were on hand to unload and inspect the latest Cayuse Warriors.
Three of the four have been identified as 180 (c/n 0180FF, ex N4290Y), 265 (c/n 0265FF, ex N6065D) and 266 (c/n 0266FF, ex N6066S). As with the last shipment of five MD530s which, as previously reported on AFD, arrived in July, the latest helicopters have the capability to fire rockets or .50 calibre machine guns.
According to Lt Col Bill Ashford, the US Air Force/438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron commander, they also have a new sighting system that was not on the initial 13 helicopters delivered. The latter continue to be modified to give them the 2.75in rocket capability and add the improved sighting systems.
Ashford said: “The MD-530s are flying multiple missions a day across Afghanistan. They are often engaged in providing aerial escort to convoys, providing over-watch to ANDSF operations and responding to ‘troops in contact’ situations.” MD-530 combat missions are flown by all AAF crews. According to Col Troy Henderson, 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group commander: “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. Today’s delivery of the final four will help support operations in northern Afghanistan. The MD530’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.”