|Photo by TSgt Quinton Russ USAF|
It looks like the Afghan Air Force will be getting a bit of an upgrade. A contract was recently awarded to MD Helicopters, Inc. for $44 million for work on seventeen MD 530F helicopters. The MD 530F is used primarily for helicopter pilot instruction at Shindand Air Field in western Afghanistan. However, it appears some weapons systems will be put on the aircraft as well. That makes sense since the Afghans have very little close air support capability. Their Mi-35s (all six of them of which 1-3 are usually down for maintenance) are reaching the end of their service life and the Super Tucanos won't be up and running until sometime in 2016.
Read the contract specifications for the MD 530F in the text below taken from www.defense.gov/Contracts/Contract.aspx?ContractID=5388.
"MD Helicopters, Inc., Mesa, Arizona was awarded a not to exceed $44,200,000 firm-fixed-price, foreign military sales (Afghanistan) undefinitized contract action for the integration, testing, procurement, modification and installation of a weapon system onto the seventeen MD 530F aircraft. Work will be performed in Mesa, Arizona with an estimated completion date of Sept. 29, 2015. One bid was solicited with one received. Fiscal 2014 other procurement funds in the amount of $21,658,000 are being obligated at the time of the award. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-14-C-0081)."