Afghan Helicopter Trust Fund Set for Second Phase
Afghan Air Force Mi-17 Helicopters make up an integral part of Afghan Security Forces.
The NATO-Russia Council’s work helping develop Afghan Air Force capabilities is continuing into its second phase.
Eleven more Afghan Air Force technicians completed their helicopter maintenance training course in Russia this May. Their graduation marks the completion of the training component of the Trust Fund’s first phase. In total, 30 Afghan technicians have completed training courses at Novosibirsk Aircraft Repair Plant. Through this project over 20 percent of the Afghan Air Force’s technicians have now been certified in the maintenance of Mi-17 helicopters by the original manufacturer.
In light of the success of Phase 1, NATO-Russia Council Foreign Ministers officially launched in December 2012 the second phase of the project and training for the next 30 Afghan Air Force technicians is set to start later this summer.
Mi-17 Medevac fully equipped flying ambulance conversion kit.
The second phase of the project will focus on providing maintenance training and spare parts for the Afghan’s Mi-35 helicopters, as well as continuing the training on Mi-17s started under Phase 1. The Russian made, Mi-35 helicopters can provide heavier aerial support for the Afghan National Security Forces and will represent a significant component of their capability to engage in security operations. In addition, the Trust Fund will support the Afghan Air Force’s Medevac capabilities with a new component under Phase 2, to convert an Mi-17 into a fully equipped flying ambulance.
The Trust Fund was created to support the Afghan Air Force in developing the capacity to maintain its fleet of Russian made Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters. The helicopters make up a vital component of the Afghan National Security Force’s capability for operational air support, and for resupplying remote and mountainous security outposts.
Afghan Air Force Technician training on Mi-17 engine maintenance in Novosibirsk.
Speaking to the Afghan technicians trained by the NRC
The technicians trained during Phase 1 of the project have now returned to Afghanistan, and are applying their new skills maintaining Afghan Air Force helicopters as aircraft support staff.
Speaking to the NRC website team, the Afghan technicians gave their views on the training courses in Russia:
An Afghan Air Force technician in Kandahar said:
“These courses have been very useful for enhancing our skills.
The Head of quality control for the Kabul helicopter group:
"It has been an extremely useful work experience which we will all be able to apply in our work when we return to Afghanistan."
They also discussed the role helicopters play in contributing to security in Afghanistan:
The Head of the Engine and Fuselage Repair Workshop in Kabul:
"In Afghanistan helicopters are a very useful form of transport both for military personnel and for civilians,"
An Electronics Technician in Kandahar, continued:
"They maintain links between the various parts of the country."
An Armed Forces Analysis Officer in Shindand:
"Helicopters are very useful to the Afghan Air Force in its everyday work, for evacuating the wounded, carrying freight, and warfare. They are extremely important."
The Afghan technicians agreed the NRC course had provided them with a large amount of information, and they acknowledged that the skills and knowledge gained will be extremely useful for their future work in Afghanistan.