KABUL, Afghanistan --- Three brand-new Mi-17 helicopters arrived in the belly of a Russian Antonov An-124, Sept. 1, on the Afghan air force ramp of Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan, at 8 a.m.
“This is the first time the Afghans have downloaded an aircraft of this size completely by themselves,” said Maj. Greg Douglas, NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan J4-M deputy commander. Douglas is deployed from the 48th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, England, and hails from Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
The three helicopters are the first of 12 to be arriving in the upcoming months.
“The significance of having these aircraft is each unit will have helicopters with only one variation,” Douglas explained. “This streamlines the process for maintenance, operations and training.”
Two of the new helicopters will travel to Kandahar Airfield once they are put together, and one will stay in Kabul. The aircraft were shipped directly from the manufacturer, and will be assembled here before leaving for KAF.
“The assembly should take anywhere from three weeks to a month,” Douglas added.
Once assembled, the aircraft will add another step in the sustainment and autonomy of the Afghan air force.