New U.S. helicopters mark major change for Afghan air force

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Senior Afghan and American officials welcomed the arrival of new U.S.-made military helicopters on Saturday, beginning a process that will radically transform the young Afghan air force.

While the plan for new UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters has been in the works for some time, it forms a major part of the U.S.-led military coalition’s training efforts, which were expanded under proposals approved by President Donald Trump in August.

At a ceremony at Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani formally accepted the first new helicopters, calling it a “historic day” that would allow the air force to better respond to the demands on the security forces.

The Russian-designed Mi-17 helicopters that currently form the backbone of the Afghan air force worked well for crews used to Russian equipment, but deteriorating relations between Moscow and Washington meant that the Americans were unable to provide new parts and aircraft to replace the overworked aircraft.

 

 

Source: News agencies