India handed over the last of four refurbished Mil Mi-25 'Hind' assault helicopters to the Afghan Air Force (AAF) on 26 November following a delay of almost a year caused by difficulties in sourcing spare parts from Russia.
Deliveries of the Indian-donated Mi-25s began in December 2015 as part of a strategic partnership agreement signed between New Delhi and Kabul in 2011.
The latest Mi-25 transfer took place ahead of the two-day Heart of Asia (HoA) ministerial conference starting on 3 December in the northern Indian city of Amritsar, which is set to be attended by senior Afghan, Indian, and Russian representatives, among others.
At the conference, India, Afghanistan, and Russia are expected to advance talks on a two-year-old proposal that New Delhi compensate Moscow for Russian spares and support for assorted materiel that India intends to transfer to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).
In addition, Indian assistance would include resurrecting abandoned Russian-made ANDSF Mil Mi-17 'Hip' transport and Mi-35 'Hind' assault helicopters, MiG-21 fighters, Antonov An-32 transport aircraft, Soviet-era field guns, and T-55 and T-72 tanks, as well as restoring an abandoned ordnance factory near Kabul.
In April 2015 India had already provided the AAF with three unarmed Cheetal helicopters, which are upgraded variants of the licence-built Cheetah (Aerospatiale SA-315) light utility helicopter, for use in counter-insurgency operations across Afghanistan's mountainous terrain.
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