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June 13, 2023

The MD 530F, known as the Sportscar of Helicopters, is a highly capable and versatile aircraft with a rich history and a wide range of applications. With its exceptional performance, the MD 530F continues to serve military, law enforcement, and civilian operators in demanding missions around the world. Keep reading about the small but mighty MD 530F helicopter and how it became a first for MotoArt. 

What is an MD 530F helicopter?


MD-530F Helicopter


The MD 530F Cayuse Warrior, developed by MD Helicopters, is a multi-purpose light attack and reconnaissance helicopter. This versatile aircraft traces its roots back to the Hughes OH-6 Cayuse, which was introduced in the 1960s and went through several evolutions and improvements, eventually leading to the creation of the Hughes 500 civilian helicopter, which led to the MD-500 family of helicopters. The MD 530F has gained recognition for its exceptional performance in various roles, including tactical, recon, and transport for military, law enforcement, and civilian operators around the world. 

The MD-530F design marked a significant leap forward in helicopter technology from its predecessor, the OH-6 Cayuse observation helicopter. Powered by a Rolls Royce 250-C30HU engine, the MD 530F boasts 650 hp, twice as much horsepower as similar helicopters. Fast and agile, the MD-530F is often called the “Sportscar of Helicopters.” The helicopter features a NOTAR (NO TAil Rotor) system, which eliminates the need for a traditional tail rotor, enhancing safety and reducing noise levels. The NOTAR system, coupled with a powerful Rolls-Royce 250-C30 engine, contributes to the MD-530's impressive maneuverability and high-altitude “hot and high” performance. The helicopter can be equipped with a range of weapons, sensors, and mission systems, customizable to suit the specific requirements of operators. 

In production since 1982, the MD-530F remains in service in many countries today, in military, law enforcement and other uses across various sectors. Its agility, speed, and versatility make it a preferred choice for military operations. It excels in reconnaissance, light attack, and close air support missions, where its maneuverability and small size provide a distinct advantage. Additionally, the MD-530F has proven its worth in law enforcement operations, assisting in surveillance, search and rescue, and border patrol activities. Civilian operators have also embraced the MD-530F for tasks such as aerial firefighting, power line inspections, and wildlife management.

MD Helicopters 

Originally designed by Hughes Aircraft Company in the 1960s, the OH-6 Cayuse was developed to replace the U.S. Army’s Bell H-13 Sioux. Its success led to the development of a civilian version, the Hughes 500 and its subsequent variants. In 1984, McDonnell Douglas acquired Hughes Helicopters and the helicopters were rebranded, such as MD 500E and MD 530F. After the 1997 Boeing/McDonnell Douglas merger, the MD helicopter series were sold to MD Helicopters in 1997. 

After acquiring the rights to the design, MD Helicopters began a series of enhancements and improvements which will keep this helicopter in service for years to come. MD Helicopters has continually enhanced the MD-530F, incorporating advanced technologies to improve its performance and capabilities. The company has been contracted to deliver and support MD 530F helicopters in many air forces in allied partner nations around the world, including Kenya, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. 


MD 530 F At A Glance

MD 530 helicopter drawing


  • Manufacturer: Md Helicopters
  • Serial #: 0219ff
  • Crew: 2
  • Rotor Span: 27 Ft 6 In
  • Length: 23 Ft 10.5 In
  • Height: 8 Ft 7.8 In
  • Armament: 2x .50 Cal Fn Herstal Heavy Machine Gun Pods Or 2x 7-Tube M260 70mm Air-To-Surface Missile Launchers


  • Range: 218 Nm
  • Cruise Speed: 110 Kts
  • Ceiling: 16,000 Ft
  • Empty Weight: 1,723 Lb
  • Max Takeoff Weight: 3,750 Lb
  • Rate Of Climb: 1,031 Ft/Min
  • Engine: 1x Rolls-Royce 250 Iv-C30 Gas Turbine

N6090Y: Support in Afghanistan

N6090Y (c/n 0219FF)
N6100N (c/n 0216FF) and N6090Y (c/n 0219FF) MD530F helicopters eventually for the Afghan Air Force. Photo by Andy/ZD703 used with permission

Serial number 0219FF was delivered to the Afghan Air Force March 17, 2015, as one of the first six of twelve new armed MD 530Fs deployed by the U.S. in support of its allied partner Afghanistan , bringing the AAF total, at the time, to 17. Nicknamed Jengi, the MD 530F was used for pilot training (unarmed) and for close air attack and as an aerial escort. Since the fall of Afghanistan, the U.S. has recovered several former AAF aircraft, including MD 530F helicopters, storing them at Davis-Monthan, in Arizona.

MD-530F Afghanistan AAF student pilots fly solo flickr photo by NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license 


  MD530 NATO



Afghan Army MD530F

This video shows U.S. Army Instructor Pilot Andrew Montenero discussing training of AAF pilots.



MotoArt Gets D.O.D Approval

Because of the “Stop Arming Iran Act” signed in 2007, MotoArt has not been able to work with newer military aircraft. This act prohibited the sale of F-14’s to Iran, and recognized the Department of Defense’s responsibility and duty to demilitarize such aircraft. In Spring 2023, MotoArt owner Dave Hall and the team were able to plead their case to the D.O.D. and thankfully, the department agreed and gave MotoArt the stamp of approval to continue their mission to preserve aviation history and share these relics with future generations. 


MD 530 F airplane skin tags


“You cannot demilitarize an aircraft any more than a 3” oval piece of fuselage skin,” says Hall. “PlaneTags are simultaneously preserving the memory of a specific aircraft, and providing an educational tool to learn about its history. Happily, for us, the D.O.D thinks so too.”

The MD-530’s small structure produced a small run of a mix of aluminum and composite PlaneTags. Hall has added another release to the regular, every-two-weeks schedule just for helicopter aficionados, calling it Whirlybird Wednesdays. The small batch heli PlaneTags will be released every 8 to 10 weeks or so.

Here are some photos from the team.


MD 530

MD-530 aviation plane tags

MD-530F collectible

MD 530 MotoArt

MD-530 PlaneTags

MD530 Helicopter

MD-530 PlaneTags

The MD-530 PlaneTags are a small run of 1500. They will be a mix of aluminum and composite materials. They will be released on and the PlaneTags app on Wednesday, June 14, 2023 at 12:00 PT.






Helicopter PlaneTags

Do you have a passion for helicopters? PlaneTags has assembled some of the great whirlybirds of the past - check these out before they are gone for good, like our Bell Huey UH-1F - made from 66-1222.