Russia reacts on US plans to purchase Blackhawks for Afghan Air Force

A UH-60 Black Hawk assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade prepares to drop Navy divers with the U.S. Navy SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1, Naval Special Warfare Group 3 in the water during HELOCAST training with flight crews from the 25th CAB at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay June 18.

The Russian special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov has the replacement of the Afghan Air Force inventory with the US-made Blackhawk helicopters will be hard and will require more time and investment.

Insisting that Moscow is doubtful regarding the plan, Kabullov said only the training of the pilots for Blackhawks will require at least 4 years.

“Can Afghanistan wait for four years. I think there is not enough time available,” Kabulov was quoted as saying by the State-run news agency, Sputnik News.

This comes as the United States Department of Defense (DoD) has reportedly requested funding to refurbish and update at least 53 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).

A spokesman for DoD, Adam Stump, told Reuters “The Department of Defence has determined that procuring U.S.-made helicopters is a more sustainable long-term solution to meet the requirements.”

According to the paper, the $814 million request, made in a budget amendment submitted this month, would also provide money for other new attack aircraft for the Afghans.

It would help push the total funding for Afghan security forces to $4.2 billion for 2017, surpassing the $1.2 billion requested for arming and supporting local forces in Iraq and Syria.

Stump further added that the delivery of the helicopters will begin within two years once the Congress approves the funding.

The budget also requests funding for 30 additional armed MD-530 attack helicopters, six A-29 fixed wing close attack aircraft and five AC-208 aircraft for the Afghan air force. -KP

THE PASHTUN TIMES

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