MD Helicopters showed off its prototype MD540A armed scout helicopter last week at theSOFEX show in Jordan, marking the type’s first appearance outside the U.S. The choice of venue was made to highlight the type’s credentials in an area where its hot-and-high performance is of considerable interest, at a show where its special forces support capability is highly relevant, and in a country that has a requirement for a new armed helicopter.
Developed partly for the U.S. Army’s now shelved armed aerial scout program, the MD540A has a comprehensive mission fit, at the heart of which is a Moog mission system. Target acquisition is provided by an L-3 Wescam MX-10D electro-optical turret, presenting data on a Thales Scorpion helmet-mounted display.
The rear cabin can be used for passengers, or can be fitted with an extended-range weapon wing (ER2W) from Mace Aviation. This airfoil-shaped stub wing fits across the rear cabin, and contains extra fuel to help offset the range decrease caused by the drag and weight of ordnance. On its four pylons it can carry an array of weapons, including guns, rocket pods and Hellfire missiles. Rocket options include laser-guided weapons such as the Lockheed Martin DAGR, Raytheon Talon and BAE Systems APKWS.
The MD 540A has a lot of testing to undertake once the new engine is fitted, and will not be available for sale until summer 2015. In the interim, MD Helicopters is in the process of certifying the MD 530G, a version of the MD 530 with most elements of the MD 540A’s advanced weapon system. A final series of weapon trials to be undertaken in June should clear the MD 530G for sale this summer.
In the meantime, Jordan continues to evaluate armed scout helicopters while operatingMD 530Fs in the special forces support role, and Bell AH-1 Cobras for anti-armor duties. The country announced a letter of intent to purchase the rival Boeing AH-6i Little Bird four years ago, but that has not led to any contract. Having secured a sale to Iraq, Bell is also pitching its Model 407 in the region. (Ainonline)