Ministers Launch Afghan Helicopter Project’s Second Phase
Afghan Air Force training medical and causality evacuation procedures (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Melissa K. Mekpongsatorn)
NATO-Russia Council Foreign Ministers officially launched the second phase of the Helicopter Maintenance Trust Fund today. The Trust Fund is supporting the Afghan Air Force develop the capacity to maintain its fleet of Russian made Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters. The helicopters are a vital component of the Afghan National Security Force’s capability for operational air support, and for resupplying remote and mountainous security outposts.
During the first phase of the project 30 Afghan technicians were trained at the Novosibirsk Aircraft Repair Plant, the original equipment manufacturer specialist facility. As well as training personnel, the Trust Fund is also supplying the Afghan Air Force with the spare parts that are needed to ensure their fleet of helicopters remains operational.
Phase 2 will significantly expand the assistance the Trust Fund is providing to the Afghan Air Force. Not only will it offer more maintenance training on Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters, as well as spare parts. It will also support the Medical Evacuation capabilities of the Afghan Air Force by providing a conversion kit to transform a Mi-17 helicopter into a fully equipped flying ambulance. This will support the development of a capability the Afghan Air Force currently under development.
Mi-17 Medevac fully equiped flying ambulance conversion kit.
NRC nations have contributed significantly to move the project into its second phase. Germany, the Trust Fund’s lead nation, announced their latest contribution to the Trust Fund which has allowed Ministers to launch Phase 2 of the project today. As well as the German contribution another significant in kind contribution of spare parts from the US and donations from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey have been announced. Other NRC nations are exploring possibilities of funding this project.