Did you know that the current Afghan Air Force (AAF) is still using Russian made Mi-17 helicopters? Yes, they are!

US involvement in the war in Afghanistan started years ago so you may wonder why and how Russian made helicopters are still being used? The why, makes more sense than the how and the how, may leave you a bit upset.

Why. It made sense for the Afghans to continue flying the aircraft they already had from the days prior to US intervention. Afghan pilots and mechanics were already trained in them and spares parts were available.

How. The United States has been buying these helicopters from the Russians!

But that may soon change according to Khaama Press, one of the largest news and information sources in Afghanistan according to their website.

According to reports, the Department of Defense (DoD) is seeking to end its reliance on Russian-made helicopters to support the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and plans to transition to Connecticut-made Black Hawk helicopters.

The decision was made following efforts by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), and U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).

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“This long overdue step—which I repeatedly advocated— will rightly provide the Afghan military with American helicopters from Sikorsky rather than lesser quality Russian products,” Blumenthal said. “It’s good news for Connecticut’s economy and jobs, and equally good for our national security. Millions of American dollars should never have gone to Russia for Mi-17 helicopters instead of Sikorsky Blackhawks—a travesty that will now be stopped.”- Khaama Press

Russian Mi-17 Helicopter
Photo Courtesy of Joseph A. Wilson, U.S. Army [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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This sounds like a much better solution for the United States. Instead of sending millions of dollars to the Russians we will be purchasing UH-60A Blackhawk helicopters for the Afghans that are manufactured by a US based company. This story is more confirmation that the United States is still very engaged in Afghanistan.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons