Helicopter Trust Fund Goes From Strength to Strength
From maintenance to take-off: AAF trains on Mi-17 (image courtesy of Afghan Air Force Facebook page)
The NATO-Russia Council Helicopter Maintenance Trust Fund is going from strength to strength in 2013, with a range of activities underway or about to start. The final group of 11 Afghan technicians, from the first phase of the project, are currently being trained in Mi-17 maintenance at the Novosibirsk Aircraft Repair Plant. A team from the NATO Support Agency and International Staff visited the plant to observe the training . At the end of the course in May, the technicians will return to Afghan Air Force maintenance operations in Kabul and begin putting into practice their newly aquired knowledge and skills. The trust fund is continually developing the Afghan Air Force’s capabilities to independently operate and maintain its vital fleet of Mi-17 helicopters. Over 20 percent of Afghan Air Force helicopter technicians have already received qualified training in Novosibirsk underlining the significant impact of the Trust Fund in assisting Afghans in providing security for their country.
NRC nations contributing significantly to begin Phase 2
On 5 March NATO-Russia Council nations participating in the Trust Fund came together to assess the progress of the project so far, and look to the beginning of its second phase. Germany, the Trust Fund’s lead nation, announced their new contribution to the Trust Fund which will allow Phase 2 of the project to begin. 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.
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. It will also support the Medical Evacuation capabilities of the Afghan Air Force by proving a conversion kit to transform an Mi-17 into a fully equipped flying ambulance.
Train the trainer – developing local capacity for technical training
Before Phase 2 gets underway in April 2013, there will also be a train the trainer course offered to relevant Afghan technicians already trained in Novosibirsk. The train the trainer course will be held in Croatia, provided by the Croatian Air Force, and will develop the training skills of the technicians. It is a crucial development of the Afghan Air Force’s capacity to train a new generation of maintenance technicians for itself.
The NRC Helicopter Maintenance Trust Fund continues to be one of the key projects for NRC nations. As it enters its second phase, the results of the training and spare parts provision are already having a tangible impact on the capacity of the Afghan Air Force. At the same time, it underlines how NRC nations working together can bring tangible results towards their common goal: a more secure and stable Afghanistan.