According to Franz J Marty, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly correspondent, five additional MD 530F Cayuse Warrior light attack helicopters arrived in Kabul on 17 June to boost the Afghan Air Force’s (AAF’s) capability to support Afghan National Army ground operations.
The latest delivery raises the number of such airframes provided by the United States to the AAF from 13 to 18. A further nine aircraft are scheduled for delivery by the end of August 2016, which would increase the number of the AAF’s MD 530Fs to a pre-arranged total of 27.
«These five latest MD 530Fs have the capability to fire rockets or .50 calibre/12.7-mm machine guns, and sighting systems that are not on the previously delivered helicopters», said Lieutenant Colonel Bill Ashford, commander of the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron.
While earlier reports indicated that previously fielded MD 530Fs were equipped not only with FN Herstal .50 calibre/12.7-mm heavy machine gun pods but also with seven-tube M260 launchers for 2.75 inch/70-mm rockets, Lieutenant Colonel Ashford said the newly arrived MD 530Fs are the first ones fitted with rockets.
Rocket-firing capabilities are set to be added to the previously delivered 13 MD 530Fs over the course of 2016, according to a report by the US Department of Defense.
There is sometimes some confusion regarding the exact number of MD 530Fs fielded with the AAF, as some of the helicopters already delivered were returned to the United States for weapon upgrades before being re-delivered to Afghanistan.