The Lebanese Air Force has taken delivery of an additional six MD-530F+ light attack helicopters from the United States in a ceremony at the Hamat Air Base.
The delivery of the six units on November 16 brings the total number of Little Bird helicopters in Lebanese service to 12. The first batch of Little Birds arrived at Beirut Air Base aboard a Boeing 747 freighter in October this year.
“Since 2017, the US military teams have worked closely with the LAF to ensure the capabilities of these aircrafts would fill mission requirements and enhance the operational capacity of the LAF in providing for Lebanon’s security. Today, we are not only formally inaugurating these helicopters, valued at over $40 million dollars, but we are welcoming them as the newest additions of the LAF’s air fleet,” US ambassador Dorothy C. Shea said at the ceremony.
The armed MD 530s delivered to Lebanon are the first light attack helicopter of its kind to integrate APKWS missiles and live downlink of targeting data. They also feature an all-glass cockpit that includes Genesys Aerosystems LCD primary displays, Tek Fusion Global’s Pathfinder mission management system and Ares weapons management systems.
The helicopters also have 62mm ballistic armor protection, FN Herstal .50 caliber HMP 400 machine gun pods, M260 7-shot rocket pods, WESCAM MX-10D EO/IR laser designators, Scorpion helmet-mounted cueing systems from Thales, and the Harris Falcon III RF-7850A-MR radios.
The delivery of the helicopters follows a recent US announcement on an additional $67 million in annual foreign military financing support for Lebanon. This is in addition to the $120 million that the US had already set aside for the country, bringing the total to $187 million for this year.