KABUL, Afghanistan — Four new MD-530 Cayuse Warrior helicopters arrived at Hamid Karzai International Airport Aug. 25, via a C-17 Globemaster III from Travis Air Force Base, Calif.
The helicopters are the final four being delivered to the Afghan Air Force and bring their total to 27 MD530s.
Like the previous shipment of five in July, the helicopters arrive 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," Ashford said.
Members of Train, Advise, Assist Command – Air (TAAC-Air), AAF personnel, and contractors were on the scene to unload and inspect the latest Cayuse Warriors. Ashford said the MD-530s are an asset to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
"The MD-530s are flying multiple missions a day across Afghanistan," Ashford said. "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," Henderson said. "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 them where they are needed," Henderson said. "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.