Ground Report | New Delhi: Taliban seize over 100 Russian; The Taliban have seized more than a hundred Russian-made helicopters of varying degrees of serviceability, said the head of a Russian state-owned arms export company. However, the Taliban are unlikely to be able to use them due to the lack of access to a maintenance team and spare parts.
Taliban seize over 100 Russian
After neutralizing the Afghan army and taking control of large arms and transport depots, the Taliban also seized at least one hundred Mi-17, Russian-made transport helicopters. The helicopters were purchased by the United States for the Afghan military as they are relatively cheap and easier to fly compared to the UH-60 Black Hawk.
“The helicopter fleet there is large: more than a hundred Mi-17 helicopters of various types,” said Alexander Mikheev, head of the Russian export company Rosoboronexport. – Of course, this park requires repair, maintenance, supply of spare parts. Most of this park, he said, can no longer be used.
Mikheev’s estimate significantly exceeds the declared number of Russian-made helicopters in Afghanistan. According to a July report by the US Special Inspector for Reconstruction of Afghanistan (Sigar), the Afghan military had 56 Mi-17 helicopters at its disposal, of which 32 were operational and in the country.
In recent years, the United States has begun supplying Black Hawk helicopters to Afghanistan, in part due to restrictions on working with Russian arms manufacturers and exporters of Mi-17s. However, far fewer Afghan teams have been trained to maintain the condition of these helicopters. Black Hawk fleet availability has halved to 39 percent between April and June, according to Sigar, as maintenance contractors were recalled.
For years, the Mi-17 park served as the backbone of the Afghan Air Force, helicopters regularly performed work on the transport of troops, the delivery of ammunition, and the evacuation of the wounded. The United States began purchasing Mi-17 helicopters in 2005, it managed to purchase at least 50 machines from the Russian state export company, plans to purchase another 30 helicopters met with disagreement in Congress in 2013.