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Afghan army takes delivery of Czech-donated helicopters

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By Michal Zdobinsky

19 February 2008




The Czech Republic has provided the Afghan National Army (ANA) with the

first three of six modernised Mil Mi-17 helicopters as plans were revealed

for the long-term build-up of the Afghan National Army Air Corps (ANAAC).

The Czech government approved a donation, equivalent to CZK610 million

(USD35 million), of six Mi-17 transport helicopters and six Mil Mi-24

combat/attack helicopters from the Czech Air Force in April 2007 following a

NATO and Afghan government appeal for assistance in building the ANA's

capability. The remaining three Mi-17 helicopters should be handed over by

May 2008.

All of the helicopters have undergone an overhaul programme at the Letecké

Opravny Malesice (LOM) aircraft repair works in Prague, Czech Republic, with

the USD33 million upgrade costs borne by NATO. The Mi-17s were the first to

be modified due to the ANA's critical lack of transport helicopters. Each

has received the more powerful TV3-117VM engine and add-on cockpit armour,

while the cargo hold/troop compartment is protected by a matting of

ballistic fabric. Each window in the hold has a firing port for personal


Lateral outriggers with racks for the attachment of six 57 mm unguided

rocket launchers have also been fitted, and the helicopters are also

equipped with a NATO-standard identification friend-or-foe (IFF) transponder

in addition to new intercoms and radios.

Following assembly and testing the three Mi-17s were taken over by ANA

representatives on 17 December 2007 and the formal handover with Afghan

President Hamid Karzai and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)

commanders took place in January.

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