Afghanistan could receive Mil Mi-35 ‘Hind-E’ assault helicopters donated from India, according to a media report.
India is looking to buy an undisclosed number of surplus Mi-35s from third-part countries, which it would then pass on to Afghanistan, The Hindu reported on 21 December.
According to the report, which cited unnamed Indian and Afghan officials, a team from the Indian Ministry of Defence will travel to an undisclosed Eastern European country to look into sourcing the helicopters. The Hindu named Serbia and/or Ukraine as being likely donors, although it should be noted that the former does not currently operate the ‘Hind’, while the latter fields the older Mi-24 model of the helicopter.
Equipping the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) in general and the Afghan Air Force (AAF) in particular is overseen by the United States’ Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
It is the current policy of the United States to transition the ANDSF and AAF from its previously-held largely Russian-built inventory over to US-built and supplied equipment. For the air force, this has meant replacing the Mi-35s with MDHI MD530F Cayuse Warrior light attack helicopters and Sierra-Nevada Corporation/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft.
While acquiring new Mi-35s for the AAF would appear to fly in the face of this equipment policy, the Mi-24/25/35 does have some unique capabilities in its ability to transport troops while providing effective close air support that cannot be so easily replicated by any US-built platform. Its ruggedness and survivability are also well suited to the hostile Afghan operation environment.
India had previously donated four Mi-25 helicopters to Afghanistan, the first of which arrived in-country in December 2015. These Mi-25s were intended to replace five Mi-35s that had already been grounded due to serviceability issues.
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