HAMID KARZAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Afghanistan --
Four new MD-530 Cayuse Warrior helicopters arrived at Hamid Karzai International Airport Aug. 25, 2016, via a C-17 Globemaster III from Travis Air Force Base, Calif.
The four helicopters, scheduled to be the final four delivered to the Afghan air force, brings the AAF total number of MD-530s to 27.
Like the previous shipment of five MD-530s in July, 2016, these newest helicopters arrived with the capability to fire rockets or .50-caliber machine guns. They also have a new sighting system that wasn’t on the initial 13 helicopters, according to Lt. Col. Bill Ashford, 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron commander.
“The first 13 helicopters continue to be modified to support 2.75-inch rocket capabilities and add the improved sighting systems,” said Ashford.
Members of Train, Advise, Assist Command – Air (TAAC-Air), AAF personnel, and contractors were on scene to unload and inspect the latest Cayuse Warriors. Ashford said the MD-530s are an asset to Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
“The MD-530s are flying multiple missions a day across Afghanistan,” said Ashford. “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, those Afghan pilots are making a big difference in the fight against insurgents.
“AAF MD-530 pilots are positively impacting counter-insurgency operations daily across Afghanistan,” said Henderson. “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.”
Henderson said the MD-530s are the right size for their mission in Afghanistan.
“The MD-530's size enables the AAF to use their C-130s to transport where they are needed,” said Henderson. “They have great maneuverability and capable weapon systems to target a variety of enemy targets. Their presence in Afghanistan has been critical to neutralizing insurgent operations.”
The MD-530 is providing a critical air-to-ground capability, enabling Afghan pilots to engage the enemy.