AAF Helicopter Technicians Start NRC Training
On 1 April 2012 the first training course for 10 Afghan helicopter-maintenance staff began at the Novosibirsk Aircraft Repair Plant (NARP) which is a part of Russian Industrial Corporation OBORONPROM. The 90-day course is taking place in the framework of the NRC Helicopter Maintenance Trust Fund project, which was launched by the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) in April 2011 to build capacity in the Afghan Air Force (AAF) to operate its helicopter fleet more effectively.
The AAF currently operates 36 Mi-17 and 8 Mi-35 helicopters. Such aircraft are essential for the safe movement of troops and supplies in remote regions, which have poor transportation infrastructure, extreme climatic and environmental conditions, and the added risk of attack from insurgents.
The repair plant in Novosibirsk, which was established in 1941, has been selected to serve as the main training centre for Afghan maintenance personnel under the project. It has extensive experience in repairing helicopters, as well as a long and successful track record of training maintenance personnel from numerous countries across the globe. The training centre is officially certified by Russian Federation Aviation Authorities.
Training will initially focus on the maintenance of Mi-17s. A specific curriculum, based on three certified courses, has been developed to meet the AAF's needs. It covers specialised areas such as the maintenance of helicopter engines, armaments, avionics, instrumentation, radio equipment and electrical equipment.
A total of some 30 Afghan maintenance personnel are expected to receive training under the project over the next two years. Training will consist of both classroom instruction using a computer-based system and practical, on-the-job training in production units and laboratories. It will be conducted with the help of Dari interpreters and the translation into Dari of all related technical documentation is foreseen.
The Trust Fund project
The NRC Helicopter Trust Fund project was officially launched in March 2011 at the a meeting of NRC Foreign Ministers in Berlin, with Germany acting as the lead nation and the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA) serving as the project's executing agent. The project aims to provide the AAF with a much-needed maintenance and repair capacity, including spare parts and technical training. In its capacity as Executing Agent of the Trust Fund, NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA) is in charge of coordinating efforts of all parties involved in the Project: NRC donor countries, Afghan Authorities, OBORONPROM and NARP.
The donor countries, which include Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Russia, Turkey and United States, have contributed a total of more than 7 million US dollars in financial, and 15 million US dollars in in-kind contribututions to the Trust Fund.