By Josh Smith
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Oct 7 (Reuters) – Senior Afghan and
American officials welcomed a attainment of new U.S.-made
military helicopters on Saturday, commencement a routine that will
radically renovate a immature Afghan atmosphere force.
While a devise for new UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters has been
in a works for some time, it forms a vital partial of the
U.S.-led troops coalition’s training efforts, that were
expanded underneath proposals authorized by President Donald Trump in
“It’s a modernization of their module that will concede them
to plan energy via Afghanistan,” pronounced Lieutenant
Colonel Trent Alexander, a U.S. troops confidant to a Afghan
air force. “While transitioning to a Black Hawk will not be a
quick task, it will not be a formidable task.”
At a rite during Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan,
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani rigourously supposed a initial new
helicopters, job it a “historic day” that would concede the
air force to improved respond to a final on a security
The Russian-designed Mi-17 helicopters that now form
the fortitude of a Afghan atmosphere force worked good for crews used
to Russian equipment, though deteriorating family between Moscow
and Washington meant that a Americans were incompetent to provide
new tools and aircraft to reinstate a busy aircraft.
“The Mi-17 was a good aircraft and it brought a Afghans
the ability to be capable, however, with a introduction of the
UH-60 they are now sustainable,” Alexander said.
By 2024 a U.S. skeleton to yield a Afghans with during least
159 Black Hawks, including 58 propitious with additional rocket pods and
machine guns to yield tighten atmosphere support, a swift that will
dwarf a fewer than 40 Mi-17s now operational.
The Black Hawks will cost a American supervision roughly $8
million a piece, officials said, after a routine that completely
refurbishes and upgrades U.S. Army over-abundance aircraft.
So distant usually dual training Black Hawks have arrived, with the
delivery of several additional helicopters behind by a U.S.
military’s charitable response to hurricanes in a Caribbean.
Retraining an Afghan commander to fly a Black Hawk takes about
five to 6 months, pronounced Alexander.
Members of a initial category of 6 pilots pronounced they were
excited over what they perspective as some-more complicated helicopters.
“Black Hawks are manoeuverable since they are smaller than
the Mi-17, so will be some-more able during fighting, carrying
soldiers, or cargo,” pronounced one pilot, Zabihullah Dorandish.
The Afghan pilots are approaching to start drifting their own
missions in a Black Hawks by early subsequent year, officials said.
A Twitter feed attributed to Taliban orator Zabihullah
Mujahid warned that a aircraft would do zero to change the
U.S. and Afghan leaders “should remember that the quarrel is
not formed on record though is an ideologically motivated
fight”, he pronounced in one Twitter post.
(Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Andrew Bolton)