On 6 October 2021, National Air Cargo Boeing B747-412(BCF) N702CA arrived at Beirut International Airport (Lebanon) with a special load for the Lebanon Air Force (Al Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Lubnania). Six pallets, all with an MD Helicopters MD 530F+ each, where offloaded. The six pallets disappeared in a hangar for reassembly over the next few days.
Scramble assesses that the following six MDs arrived at Beirut:
311 0311FF N60491 cancelled 28aug20
312 0312FF N6027W cancelled 29oct20
313 0313FF N60863 cancelled 15oct20
314 0314FF N60864 cancelled 29oct20
315 0315FF N6015Y cancelled 28aug20
316 0316FF N60162 cancelled 29oct20
The three digit black code on the camouflaged fuselages are derived from the construction number. An appropriate local “L-xxx” serial is likely to appear eventually. The helicopters will be either initially retained at Beirut or relocate to another base, possibly Hamat or Rayak Air Base. If they do they will replace the old Gazelle SA342Ls at Rayak, so 8 squadron might be their future unit.
The helicopters were delivered after a year-long delay. In March 2021, however, the first of three classes Lebanese Air Force pilots successfully completed their training at the MD Helicopters Flight Academy, with maintainers and armament personnel, in Mesa (AZ).
The MD 530F+ helicopters delivered to Lebanon 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. They also have 62mm ballistic armor protection, FN Herstal .50 caliber HMP 400 machine gun pods, M260 7-shot rocket pods, 70mm/2.75” APKWS (Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System) rockets, WESCAM MX-10D EO/IR laser designators, Scorpion helmet-mounted cueing systems from Thales, and Harris Falcon III RF-7850A-MR radios.
Photo’s: Lebanese Air Force