It would cost close to $50 million for new parts and repairs to 11 grounded Soviet-made Mi-35 helicopters and seven transport aircraft with the Afghan Air Force (AAF). A team of Indian experts made the assessment after an on the spot technical evaluation.
The repair would boost the capabilities of the Afghan forces who are in critical need of air power. India may help scale the challenge, according to Ambassador Manpreet Vohra.
“We have been looking at the scale of the challenge the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) faces, particularly in one segment, close air support,” he was quoted as saying in local media dispatches.
A decision is expected to be taken in this regard within the next few months.
However, it is not clear whether Delhi will undertake the repairs on its own or finance the repairs. Either way, we will be happy, says the Afghan Ministry of Defence (MOD).
“We want India’s cooperation in any sector which is in the interests of the two countries. India is a friend of Afghanistan and we are independent countries,” Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri told TOLOnews.
India’s willingness to help itself is a welcome development, says military analyst Muhsen Mukhtar, and points out that India knows what Afghanistan needs militarily. “India knows the military needs of Afghanistan, because Afghanistan is of unique importance to India and wants a stable Afghanistan,” he said.
Ambassador Manpreet Vohra said: “We are trying to see how we can help. They have a large number of attack helicopters and transport aircraft grounded for want of spares, for expiry of certification.”
United States is also working on plans to replace the transport helicopters being used by the Afghan Air Force with the modern UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.
In his statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. Votel spoke about significant capability gaps in Afghan Air Force.
“The current rotary wing fleet consisting primarily of the Russian-made Mi-17 is both undersized and proving to be more expensive and difficult to sustain than originally envisioned and is experiencing a higher than expected attrition rate,” he said.