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Possible disruption of US-Russia deal on choppers for Afghanistan to be disastrous

July 18, 2014, 13:38 UTC+3 WASHINGTON
In the view of the US general, all this will result in weaker operational capabilities of Afghan security forces and will heighten sharply the risk for US and NATO servicemen
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Mi-17 helicopter during an opening ceremony at a military airport in Kabul (archive)

Mi-17 helicopter during an opening ceremony at a military airport in Kabul (archive)

© AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool

WASHINGTON, July 18. /ITAR-TASS/. US purchases of Russian helicopter gunships Mil Mi-17 for Afghan military forces are important for security of that country and termination of choppers’ delivery would be disastrous, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) US General Joseph Dunford said.

He believes that without Mi-17 operational capabilities Afghan military forces will fail to ensure security successfully and will not become a reliable partner in the fight against terrorism.

The ISAF commander noted that the decision to withdraw US and NATO military forces from Afghanistan had been taken, because the Afghan national army would be armed with strong modern weapons and will make its combat capability higher. Otherwise, he noted that it would be much more difficult to attain these goals.

The halt to supplies of spare parts and maintenance facilities for choppers Mi-17 will also entail regretful consequences. In this case material-technical support to helicopter gunships by Russian specialists in Afghanistan and reliable operation of these combat aircrafts will be extremely complicated.

In the view of the US general, all this will result in weaker operational capabilities of Afghan security forces and will heighten sharply the risk for US and NATO servicemen who will serve in the limited contingent in the country after 2014.

The contract between the Pentagon and the Russian main arms-exporting company Rosoboronexport envisages delivery of 88 helicopter gunships Mi-17 for Afghan army as well as spare parts, maintenance tools and weapons for these helicopters. However, the US Senate has recently moved in an amendment banning further co-operation between the US Department of Defense and the Russian company a bill on military budget in the financial year of 2015.

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