May 25 (UPI) -- MD Helicopters Inc. has received a $76.7 million contract for logistical and contractor support for the MD 530F helicopter, the Department of Defense announced Tuesday. The contract falls under foreign military sales to the Afghanistan Air Force.
U.S. Army Fiscal 2017 funds of $37.6 million have been allocated to the program. Work will be completed in Mesa, Ariz., and Afghanistan. The program is expected to be finished by May 31, 2018.
"The MD-530s are flying multiple missions a day across Afghanistan," Air Force Lt. Col. Bill Ashford of the 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron said last year following delivery of 27 of the helicopters to Afghanistan last year.
"They are often engaged in providing aerial escort to convoys, providing over-watch to ANDSF operations and responding to 'troops in contact' situations."
The MD 530F Cayuse Warrior is an upgraded armed variant of the OH-6 Cayuse light-utility helicopter, which saw extensive use during the Vietnam War.
The helicopter model has received many updates and been produced in many variations, including the AH-6J "Little Bird," which is used extensively by U.S. Special Forces as a light attack and transport helicopter.
The Cayuse Warrior can carry both unguided rocket pods and .50mm machine guns. It has an improved sighting and targeting system over previous models. The helicopter has a range of over 270 miles, flight ceiling of 16,000 feet, and can carry over a ton of weapons, personnel and cargo.