Afghan Air Force MD-530F Cayuse Warrior helicopter fires its two .50 Cal machine guns during a media demonstration April 9, 2015, at a training range outside of Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force
The Afghan Air Force continues to require contractor support for operations and maintenance of MD Helicopters' MD-530 Cayuse Warrior attack helicopters, according to the Government Accountability Office.
U.S. Train, Advise, and Assist Command–Air advisors "help train Afghan pilots and maintainers and collect information on their tactical abilities," a new GAO report said. "For example, TAAC-Air advisors track the percentage of maintenance performed by Afghan Air Force maintainers and aircraft operational readiness rates, according to DOD officials. According to DOD reporting and officials, as of December 2017, the Afghan Air Force could independently conduct MD-530 helicopter operations for short intervals without contractor support but relied on contractors to perform the majority of maintenance and sustainment activities."
The Afghan Air Force received the first Cayuse Warriors as training aircraft in 2011 and now has several dozen of the rotorcraft.
In August, the Afghan Air Force received five M versions of the MD-530F, the first lot in an order of 30 to be delivered to the Afghan Air Force by September next year, according to MD Helicopters. These models feature a newly certified glass cockpit, including the Howell Instruments Electronic Engine Instruments and Crew Alert System, the Garmin G500 TXi Electronic Flight Instruments with Touchscreen GDU 700P PFD/MFD and the GTN 650 Touchscreen NAV/COM/GPS, and the L-3 ESI 500 Electronic Standby Instrument.
The M version upgrades also include a ballistically tolerant crashworthy fuel system, including both the main fuel tank and a 38-gallon auxiliary fuel tank, the company said.
"The Afghan Air Force is becoming increasingly capable, and can independently plan for and perform some operational tasks, such as armed overwatch and aerial escort missions, according to DOD reporting," the GAO report said.