Figures by the Ministry of Defense show that 10 helicopters of the Afghan army have crashed in the past nine months – including the last incident in Faryab province where an army helicopter crash-landed “due to mechanical fault” on Wednesday evening.
Many of the helicopters which have crashed are the soviet-era Mi-17 Russian helicopters.
The Afghan government and US have signed an agreement with Czech Republic and Bulgaria – which are NATO members – on repairing of the Russian helicopters. The helicopters will be sent to Czech and Bulgaria for this purpose, TOLOnews learnt from Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan.
The Ministry of Defense says the issue is mainly related to high load of flights and maintenance problems.
“When a helicopter plans a flight, the time and other matters are checked, but sometimes mechanical issues occur and besides that, we are in an intense war,” said Ghafoor Ahmad Jawed, a spokesman for Ministry of Defense.
“Fortunately, no one on board was hurt in this incident,” said Naqibullah Fayiq, governor of Faryab, who talked about Wednesday’s incident in his province.
The main repair workshop of the Afghan Air Force in Kabul has been built by the United States and mostly the US technology has been used in the workshop.
“The helicopters have crashed due to mechanical fault and due to lack of workshop. The workshops are equipped with US technology while they are repairing Russian helicopters,” said Hashim Alokozay, head of the defense commission of the Meshrano Jirga, the Upper House of Parliament.
According to military analysts, Afghanistan is using Russian helicopters since 1980. It is expected that the Russian helicopters will be replaced by the American Black Hawks.
Officials of the United States Air Force stationed at Kandahar airfield said in March that the US will handover about 20 UH-60 Black Hawks helicopters in the next nine months to the Afghan Air Force.
According to the Associated Press, US Air Force officials said since last November that 11 Black Hawk helicopters have been handed to the Afghan Air Force and the process will continue.
Statistics of the Afghan Air Force show that the number of the Afghan Air Force aircrafts will increase to 260 from a total of 120 within the upcoming seven years.
The statistics reveal that the AAF has 46 MI-17 Russian helicopters, which are mostly used to carry in reinforcements and to provide equipment to ground forces. Out of the 46, only 25 of them are active and the rest are not in service.
“The United States should provide the Afghan forces with modern and hi-tech helicopters,” said Mohammad Radmanish, a military affairs analyst.
The helicopter crash incidents have taken many lives in the past nine months including a number of pilots of the Afghan Air Force.
Taliban has often claimed that their influence has resulted in taking down the helicopters.