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12 Aug 15. Developing MOKV will be challenging but results could reap cost savings. Key Points:
• Lockheed Martin will examine technologies from its previous MKV effort
• MOKV could be a fielded capability as early as 2025
The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) on 11 August awarded contracts to Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to define a proof-of-concept prototype and demonstrate risk mitigation steps and critical functional aspects of an advanced ballistic missile kill vehicle capable of destroying multiple objects that could be dispersed by a single missile threat.
Lockheed Martin was awarded USD9.67 million and Raytheon received USD9.77 million to develop a preliminary concept for a Multiple Object Kill Vehicle (MOKV) that will “assess the technical maturity of their concept, prioritise and nominate risk reduction tasks for all critical components, and describe how the tasks will reduce risk”, according to MDA’s award announcement. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
12 Aug 15. Afghanistan to convert unarmed MD 530F helos into gunships.
The Afghan Air Force (AAF) is to convert the five unarmed MD Helicopters Inc (MDHI) MD 530F platforms it uses for training into light attack gunships, a company spokesperson told IHS Jane’s on 13 August.
The five training helicopters that are currently flown out of Shindand Air Base in Herat Province (six were delivered, but one was lost to an improvised explosive device [IED] in 2013) will be retrofitted with the Enhanced Mission Equipment Package (EMEP) by MDHI at its facility in Mesa, Arizona, before being returned to theatre in early 2016, the spokesperson said.
These converted helicopters will join 12 armed MD 530F Cayuse Warrior helicopters (known as ‘Jengi’ [Warrior] by the AAF) that were contracted by the US Army in October 2014. All of these armed helicopters have now been delivered to the AAF, although one has been retained in the United States to accelerate development of the EMEP by MDHI.
The EMEP is a development of the Mission Equipment Package (MEP) which the helicopters were initially delivered with. While the MEP comprises twin FN Herstal 12.7 mm Heavy Machine Gun Pods (HMPs), the Rhode & Schwarz M3AR tactical radio communications system, the Robertson Fuel System, and Kinetic Defense ballistic armour panels for the two-person crew, the EMEP adds to this with the M260 air-to-surface rocket launcher.
An EMEP-equipped MD 530F will have an HMP carried on one side of the helicopter, and a seven-tube M260 launcher on the other. The 70mm rockets will increase the helicopter’s stand-off range from about 1,900m with the machine guns to about 8,000m. With the EMEP development contract having been awarded by the US Army on 13 July, a total of 20 kits are due to be delivered by 12 July 2016 (including three spares). The armed helicopters so far delivered are operated out of Kabul International Airport, though it is unclear if the five currently at Shindand Air Base will be relocated to join them once they have been converted.
News that the AAF’s unarmed training fleet is to be converted into gunships came two days after the United States’ Train Advise Assist Command-East (TAACE-E) announced the type’s combat debut.
On 11 August an undisclosed number of armed MD 530F helicopters flew in support of the Afghan National Security Force’s (ANSF’s) Operation ‘Iron Triangle’. This operation is part of a wider effort to clear the districts of Khogyani, Sherzad, and Hisarak in the northeastern Nangarhar province of insurgents. It was not reported if the helicopters involved in this particular operation fired in anger.
The armed MD 530F was hurried into service earlier this year ahead of the Afghan ‘fighting season’, due to delays in the delivery of the Embraer EMB-314 (A-29) Super Tucano light attack turboprop. That fixed-wing platform is now set to