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The Latvian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced the country’s intention to purchase four MD Helicopters MD 530F Cayuse Warrior light attack helicopters from the United States on 16 October 2023.

A Latvian MoD statement said the MD 530Fs “will help carry out air operations against enemy targets at close range, provide air support for combat search and rescue operations, as well as carry out tactical reconnaissance and transport operations.” It added that in peacetime the helicopters would also “be used to maintain the qualifications of air force pilots”.

The MoD said Latvia expects to receive a full cost offer from the manufacturer in the first half of next year, after which it will look to agree the specifics of delivery.

Latvia’s intended future MD 530F Cayuse Warrior fleet would give the Latvian Air Force its only combat capability. (Photo: MD Helicopters)

Latvia has already ordered four Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters from the United States, the first two of which arrived in country in December 2022, with delivery of all four to be completed by the end of 2023. These are replacing the Latvian armed forces’ four Soviet-designed Mil Mi-8/17 helicopters.

The MD 530F, which has a maximum gross weight of 3,350 lb (1,519.5 kg) and a useful load of 1,627 lb (738 kg), can be armed with weapons that include machine gun and 70 mm rocket pods and even Hellfire anti-armour missiles. It has a never exceed speed of 152 kts (282 km/h), a maximum altitude of 16,000 ft and a range of 194 n miles (359 km).

The Latvian Air Force’s future MD 530F fleet will provide its only combat capability as, apart from the Black Hawks, the air force only operates three obsolescent but refurbished Antonov An-2 transport aircraft and a couple of Pelegrin Tarragon basic trainers.