The United States plans to provide Afghanistan with up to 159 refurbished Black Hawk helicopters to replace an aging fleet of Russian Mi-17 transport helicopters, according to Afghan and U.S. defense officials.
The deal is part of Afghanistan’s four-year plan to double its special forces unit and bolster the Afghan Air Force.
The addition of the Black Hawks will give security forces new leverage, said Ahmad Shah Katawazai, defense liaison and security expert at the Afghanistan Embassy in Washington, D.C.
“We are in the midst of an insurgency where the enemy is getting tacit support from neighboring countries,” Katawazai said. “Our security forces are under immense pressure as they are fighting each day, on several fronts, with more than 20 terrorist organizations.”
The U.S. designated about $800 million in 2017 for the Afghan Air Force, which will pay for the delivery of 53 Black Hawks, a defense official told Military Times.
A fleet as large as 159 Black Hawks would nearly double the strength of the Afghan Air Force’s current fleet of 78 Mi-17s. Many of those older helicopters are not equipped to fire rockets.
Source: Military Times