Tuesday, July 13, 2010

DTN News: Russia To Deliver 21 Mi-17 Transport Helicopters To Afghanistan

Defense News: DTN News: Russia To Deliver 21 Mi-17 Transport Helicopters To Afghanistan
Source: DTN News / Ria Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - July 13, 2010: Russia will supply Afghanistan with 21 Mi-17 Hip military transport helicopters, an Afghan television channel reported on Monday.
According to Tolo television, the contract is worth $300 million and was concluded with the approval of the с command in Afghanistan.
Russian envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin told RIA Novosti on Monday that NATO had yet to agree on the exact delivery date of some time in July, although the alliance has voiced the need for Russian transport helicopters a long time ago.
The Mi-17 is a medium twin-turbine transport helicopter that can also act as a gunship.
The Afghan Air Force currently has 25 Mi-17 helicopters, which are widely used for troop and cargo transport, rescue and evacuation missions in the fight against Taliban militants.
Afghanistan plans to increase the number of Mi-17 helicopters to 56 by 2012. The majority of Afghan helicopters pilots were trained in the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
Meanwhile, Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan Andrei Avetisyan told reporters on Monday that Moscow was ready to supply Russian-made weaponry to the war-ravaged Central Asian state.
"We have repeatedly stated our readiness to deliver military equipment to Afghanistan," the diplomat said.
In December 2002, Russia's Defense Ministry signed a contract with Afghanistan to provide military-technical assistance to Kabul with deliveries of motor vehicles, fuel and lubricants, communication equipment, topographic maps, truck-mounted repair workshops and automobile and armor equipment spare parts.
However, deliveries of Russian weaponry to Afghanistan were suspended in 2005 allegedly in order to avoid "the duplication" of U.S. aid to the country, which that year totaled over $929 million, more than 80% of which was earmarked for the military and police.
Avetisyan said the Western supplies of copycat versions of Russian weaponry to Afghanistan negatively affected the combat capabilities of the Afghan armed forces.
"We are mainly talking about the Kalashnikov assault rifles, which are manufactured under expired licenses in several East European countries," the ambassador said.

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