LONDON, -- MD Helicopters Inc (MDHI) has signed up a launch customer for its MD 530G armed reconnaissance and light attack platform, which it expects to announce 'imminently', and is in discussions with potential customers for a new armed variant of its MD 900/902 Explorer helicopter also, IHS Jane's was told on 18 January.
Speaking at the IQPC International Military Helicopter conference in London, Andrew Pillado, vice-president business development, said that the company is in the very final stages of negotiations with an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) customer for a number of its single-engined MD 530G platforms, with a contract expected to be announced in the coming days. Separately, he said MDHI is in the early stages of discussions regarding the arming of the twin-engined MD 900/902 platform for a number of undisclosed government/para-public operators.
With the MD 530G award announcement only days away, Pillado was reluctant to provide details, except to say that the customer does not currently operate the MD 500-series aircraft, and that the numbers involved are roughly the same as other initial contracts for MDHI's MD 530 platforms (Afghanistan signed for 6 MD 530Fs originally, while Saudi Arabia signed for 12).
First revealed at the same IQPC conference in 2014, the MD 530G (also referred to as the MD 530 Generation II ) is billed as a second-generation Little Bird, which will serve as an interim solution between the current MD 530F (MD 530 Generation I ) and the developmental MD 540A.
As noted by Pillado, the chief differentiators between the MD 530F and MD 530G are an enhanced stores management system and the ability to employ guided munitions, while the weight and the performance specifications of the two variants are the same. Previously, IHS Jane's has been told that the new MD 530G will also feature a four-station weapons plank, compared with two-station plank for the MD 530F, as well as an L-3 Wescam MX-10D electro-optic/infrared sensor and target designator.
The MD530G over the Yuma proving grounds in the United States.