Ride Along For Strafing Practice In Afghanistan’s Spunky Little MD530 Attack Chopper
It may not be flashy, but it can sling a lot of lead.
As Afghanistan struggles to build up its aerial attack capability, it seems like less is more for the embattled country's air arm. Case in point: their MD530F Cayuse Warrior (AKA Little Bird in the American spec-ops world) light air support helicopters.
The type's origins can be traced back to the Vietnam era OH-6 "Loach" scout helicopter. Today, the design is offered in various configurations featuring a wide range of levels of advancement. This includes commercial models that offer light utility capabilities up to the potent and technology-packed AH-6i, the most capable military variant that's getting good traction on the export market. Afghanistan's relatively simple MD530F Cayuse Warrior model falls somewhere in between. It's more gunship than anti-tank, missile-slinging night fighter, and that's probably a good thing considering Afghanistan's challenges when it comes to standing up its air arm with high-tech equipment. Still, these aircraft have their critics, some of which are within Afghanistan's air arm itself.
Afghanistan's MD530s have their clear limitations, including anemic hot and high performance, literally no armor or defense aids, and rudimentary weapons and sensors. And, yes, they may be yet another symptom of the Pentagon's total ineptitude and nearsightedness when it comes to wanting to leave ongoing insurgencies while not leaving behind one of the most important factors in keeping that insurgency at bay, that being plentiful precision air support and surveillance capacity. But still, these helicopters are simple, affordable, and rugged, and in most situations can provide surgical air support for indigenous troops in contact. Albeit it does take a brave pilot to employ them as a weapon system in the face of heavy enemy ground fire. Additionally, like the OH-6’s entire lineage, they're very nimble, as the video below, showing Afghanistan's MD530Fs executing gunnery training, demonstrates: