US delivered five more MD-530 Cayuse Warrior helicopters to the Afghan Air Force on Friday.
The MD-530s were delivered to the Afghan Air Force to support the Afghan National Army’s ground fight against the armed militants.
“These five latest (MD-530s) have the capability to fire rockets or .50-caliber machine guns and sighting systems that aren’t on the previously-delivered helicopters,” said Lt. Col. Bill Ashford, 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron commander. “We are also getting kits to modify the existing 13 to be able to support guns and rockets, but these five will be the first with both capabilities in service here.”
Afghanistan has received 13 MD-530s earlier from the US and with the five new addition the Afghan Air Force inventory will reach to 18.
“Some Afghans were skeptical of the MD-530 when it first started operating, however, it has proven itself in combat,” said Ashford. “Now everyone wants MD-530 support. The pilots are doing great work flying daily combat missions supporting (ANA) troops on the ground and escorting AAF Mi-17s in the air.”
According to the experts the Afghan pilots have flown more than 150 operational missions with the MD-530 just since May 1, 2016 and these new helicopters will give the AAF the ability to fly even more critical missions.
The MD-530s were purchased at a price of $5 million each using the Afghan Security Forces Fund.
By the end of August 2016, the AAF is scheduled to receive nine more MD-530s for a total strength of 27.