MD Helicopters has secured an order from the Nigerian army for an initial 12 Cayuse Warrior Plus armed scouts, with the deal potentially rising to an eventual 36 units.

The latest iteration of the Cayuse Warrior light-single, the Plus model adds guided rockets to the platform, alongside unguided rockets, podded machine guns and miniguns, integrated with a Moog weapons management system and chin-mounted L3Harris Wescam MX-10D electro-optical sensor.

Cayuse Warrior Plus

Source: MD Helicopters

Plus variant gains guided rockets

Nigeria plans to use the aircraft for area security, tactical reconnaissance, convoy escort, and drug interdiction missions.

No contract value has been disclosed, but the deal also includes a complete support package, spares, pilot and groundcrew training, and a flight training device.

Company executives see Nigeria as likely to place two follow-on orders for the Cayuse Warrior Plus, in 12-aircraft increments.

Brad Pedersen, MD Helicopters chief executive, speaking ahead of the Heli-Expo show in Atlanta, sees strong potential for future sales of the MD530F-derived platform as a “competitively priced” alternative to more complex armed rotorcraft.

That even extends to the Boeing AH-6i Little Bird – a heavier and more capable version of the same aircraft – for which MD Helicopters supplies parts.

Although the relationship with Boeing is far better than previously, when the two battled in court over the rights to the AH-6i, Pedersen says in future, the pair need to decide “are we friends, competitors, or both?”

Pedersen is also uncertain if the market can support two broadly similar helicopters in the longer term, with the AH-6i “caught in the middle” between the “lower price” Cayuse Warrior Plus and Boeing’s own AH-64E Apache attack helicopter.