By: Chirine Mouchantaf
BEIRUT – The Lebanese Army is set to receive six MD-530G light scout attack helicopters from the U.S, an industrial source has disclosed.
“The deal is now awaiting congressional approval”, the source said. It is still unknown when Congress will take up the matter for possible approval.
The expected delivery timeframe should be “concluded within two years from now”, he added.
The six helos are the first batch of twelve that will be provided by the U.S to the Lebanese army within the framework of the military aid program to the country. The type of the remaining six attack helicopters is yet to be determined after the first deal is sealed.
“A competition between MD Helicopters MD-530 and Bell Helicopter’s Bell 407 was held for the helos contract”, another source with knowledge of the matter said. “The first option was selected based on the Lebanese Army’s needs to close air support capabilities”, he added.
Last year, Washington delivered three Huey II helicopters which are made by Bell Helicopter, raising to 10 the number of such U.S.-made aircraft in Lebanon’s fleet.
The official stressed the importance of acquiring the MD-530 since it is “already built to be an attack platform unlike its rival Bell 407 that was mainly designed for civilian use and then developed for military purposes”.
The MD-530G can be equipped with Raytheon’s 70mm TALON laser-guided rocket to provide precision engagement and superior firepower capabilities against soft and lightly armored point targets. It is also equipped with a Rocket Machine Gun Pod (RMP), which is effective against both guided and unguided rockets. The RMP combines 12.7mm FN M3P machine gun and Nato Standard 70mm three-tube rocket launcher into a single weapons mount.
The helicopter is fitted with Dillon Aero’s 7.62mm M134D-H (Hybrid) mini Gatling and features Arnold Defense M260 seven-shot rocket pod.
|Powered by a single Rolls Royce 250-C30 engine||Powered by a single Rolls Royce M250-C47B/8 engine|
|Missions include C4, ISR, armed escort, light attack/close combat, special operations, CSAR, security missions||Missions (of the armed version Bell GT) include armed transport, search and rescue, reconnaissance, medical evacuation|
|Can carry an increased useful load of 816 kg||Can carry a useful load of 1.047 kg|
|The MD-530G is a new development of the MF-530F||The Bell 407 is developed from Bell 206L Long Ranger|
|Maximum Cruise: 240 km/h||Maximum Cruise: 246 km/h|
|Maximum Endurance: 2 and a half hours||Maximum Endurance: 4 hours|
|Can carry one pilot and around 6 passengers||Can carry one pilot and 6 passengers|
Ahmad Temsah, CEO of the Center on Regional & Eastern Studies, pointed to the ongoing U.S military support to the Lebanese Army adding that “Lebanon always preferred the American manufacturing and the U.S was always there to support our needs”.
He also stressed the army’s necessity to operate light attack helicopters “especially that the country’s environment is mainly mountainous; so this type of platforms will definitely suit operations such as Dawn of the Hills battle held back in August”.
Last November, U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth Richard said “The U.S-Lebanese military partnership is built upon shared national interests and focuses on three pillars: advancing capabilities through Training and Engagement; the transfer of high tech military equipment to build the Army’s capability; and the Defense Institution Building we are doing together to develop planning, logistical, and sustainment capabilities”.