Afghan Mi-17 Fleet Grows

The Afghan National Army Air Force continued its expansion with the recent addition of two new Mi-17 multirole transport helicopters. Their delivery now gives the nascent Afghan air arm 25 Mi-17s and moves it closer to the goal of having 56 in 2012. “The Mi-17 is vitally important to Afghanistan today to support the counterinsurgency effort, and will continue to be important for the future of Afghanistan,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Boera, who heads the Combined Air Power Transition Force, the coalition organization that advises and mentors the Afghans. The two new helicopters arrived July 8 in Kabul. The Mi-17s serve roles such as VIP transport, medical evacuation, battlefield mobility, basic cargo transport, reconnaissance, and close air support. Recently, the Afghans added a sling load capability, too. (Kabul report by Elizabeth Burke)