YEKATERINBURG, August 3. /TASS/. Russian Mi-8 military transport helicopters and Mi-24 assault gunships have redeployed from the Novosibirsk Region in Western Siberia to the Gissar airfield in Tajikistan for trilateral drills at the Kharb-Maidon training ground 20 km from the Afghan border, the press office of Russia’s Central Military District reported on Tuesday.
"The four combat helicopters have been airlifted from Russia by an An-124-100 Ruslan heavy transport plane. During the main phase of the joint exercise, the army aviation crews will land a tactical assault force and provide air support for the advancing troops in the course of eliminating an outlawed armed gang," the press office said in a statement.
The helicopters were partially disassembled before their transportation. Upon the gunships’ arrival at the destination airfield, the ground personnel assembled the helicopters while the pilots made test flights, the statement says.
The joint drills of Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan will run at the Kharb-Maidon training ground on August 5-10.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu earlier said at a conference of the defense ministers from the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Dushanbe that the three countries would practice eliminating outlawed armed gangs, conducting reconnaissance and protecting facilities during the drills.
Overall, the drills will involve 2,500 troops, including 1,800 personnel from Russia, and also about 500 items of armament and military hardware. The Russian military contingent in the drills will mostly comprise units of Russia’s 201st military base in Tajikistan.