The US Air Forces Central Command announced Wednesday that the first six Armed MD-530s arrived in Afghanistan last night.
According to Train, Assist, Advise Command-Air and 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, the armed MD-530s will increase the Afghan Air Force aerial fires capability.
Armed Mi-17s and MD-530s give the Afghan Air Force six times the number of armed aircraft for Fighting Season 2015 as compared to last fighting season, which only employed five Mi-35s.
This comes as Pentagon awarded MD Helicopters Inc. a maximum $44.2 million firm-fixed-price contract last year to develop and provide an armament package for the MD-530F helicopters that were already supplied to the Afghan Air Force.
Around 17 of the Afghan Air Force’s MD-530F helicopter will be upgraded under the contract which is expected to be completed early next year.
MD-530F helicopters are designed for high altitude and/or hot weather operations, where thinner air costs helicopters some of their lift.
Afghan Air Force is also expecting to receive 20 A-29 Super Tucano light air support aircraft which will help replace the Mi-35 attack helicopter that reaches the end of its service life in January 2016.
According to reports, the first of 20 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft 26 are scheduled to arrive early next year, in preparation for the Afghanistan pilot and maintenance training mission.
A-29 pilots and maintainers are currently in the US and have been training since February.