Afghan Warriors Take to Sky

The Afghan Air Force has put its new MD-530 Warrior helicopters to work in combat in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, according to a 438th Expeditionary Wing release. The close air attack helicopters are designed for high altitude and hot weather operations. Capt. Cory Fale, a helicopter pilot and advisor at Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air, said the helicopters were needed after the reduction in coalition airpower earlier this year. “It was great seeing the pride beaming from the Afghan aircrews as they climbed out of their helicopters from their first combat mission,” he said. Each MD-530 is armed with two .50-caliber machine gun pods, and the aircraft were upgraded with high-capacity landing gear to accommodate extra weight. “The MD-530 is highly maneuverable and makes for a very small target,” Fale said, calling it the “insurgent’s No. 1 concern” in Nangarhar province. Six of the MD-530 Warriors, called “Jengi” in Dari, were delivered in March; Afghans will have 16 by early next year. (See also Afghans Have Persistent Gap in CAS, Air Support Capability and The Growing Importance of Afghan Air Support.)