An Afghan Air Force Mi-17 takes off from Kabul Airport (Image Master Sgt. Keith Brown © USAF)

Afghan Air Force Mi-17 crashes, loss of life

An Afghan Air Force Mil (Russian Helicopters) Mi-17 (“Hip”) medium-lift helicopter crashed on 6 August, killing five crew members and 12 troops on board. The crash and loss of life have been confirmed by the Afghan Ministry of Defence, but the type of rotary wing has officially not been disclosed yet.

Four Afghan Air Force pilots training on the MD 530F helicopter at the Rotary Wing Flight Training Program in Shindand, Afghanistan, prepare for an extended cross country flight. In Autumn 2012 these pilots were the first to graduate from a pilot training program held in their country in more than 30 years (Image © US Army)
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However, the Mi-17 is the only chopper in the Afghan Air Force that is able to carry the number of personnel mentioned, as we believe a few older similar Mi-8s are no longer flyable. The helicopter went down in the Zabul province, in the south of the country. No details have been released on the mission that was being executed by the crew and pilots. Preliminary Kabul blames a technical failure for the crash.

Providing the Afghan National Army with its wings, the Afghan Air Force has at least 87 Mil Mi-17s, many delivered over the last couple of years as part of a re-weaponize program led by the United States, after internationally backed US Armed Forces invaded the country hunting for both the terrorist organisations behind the September 2011 attacks in New York and Washington, as well as the Taleban fighters destabilizing Afghanistan.

The Mi-17s (NATO-codename Hip) are not only used for regular transport, but provide medical evacuation (medevac) as well as insert/extract special forces.

© 2015 editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: An Afghan Air Force Mi-17 takes off from Kabul Airport (Image © Master Sgt. Keith Brown / USAF)