India’s Plans to Buy Helicopter Gunships for Afghanistan

Di Vincenzo Santo*

(Da The Diplomat del 2 gennaio 2018)

New Delhi. The Indian government is purportedly interested in purchasing used Russian-made Mi-35 helicopter gunships for the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF) at the special request of the Afghan government headed by Ashraf Ghani, according to Indian media reports. The Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) is expected to dispatch a team to either Serbia or Ukraine—both countries operate Soviet-era armed rotary aircraft—to discuss the possible procurement of an unknown number of used Mi-35 attack helicopters. India’s bid to bolster Afghan close air support capabilities highlights the growing military cooperation between the two countries. India completed the delivery of four Mi-25 (Mi-24D) helicopters and three HAL Cheetah light utility helicopters to the Afghan Air Force (AAF) in December 2016. It was the first time that India had transferred lethal military equipment to Afghanistan. However, all seven Indian-supplied helicopters and five Mi-35 helicopter gunships, supplied by the Czech Republic in 2008, are currently grounded and need repairs. NATO countries cannot purchase Russian-made hardware–including the parts needed to repair Soviet-era helicopters–due to Western-imposed sanctions on Russia. As a result, the Indian initiative will be of particular importance for the ANSDF. […] Russia has purportedly already agreed to take over maintenance of the Indian-supplied Mi-25s and M-17 transport helicopters. Russia might also supply Afghanistan with an unknown number of Mi-35 (possibly the M or “Hind E” variant) attack helicopters […] The AAF is in the process of inducting 159 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. It will also take delivery of 150 new MD530 F Cayuse Warrior light attack helicopters by 2022 bringing the total number of MD530 Fs operated by the ANSDF to almost 180. […]

Un elicottero MI35

*Generale CA ris