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UH-60s Helicopter for Afghans Lacks Lift of Old Russian Mi17s: Pentagon Report

According to the Pentagon’s inspector general Glenn Fine’s report, Afghanistan’s UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters are not as capable as the Russian-made Mi-17s. The Afghan military has been flying the Russian-made chopper since the 1980s. Pentagon Inspector General Fine wrote in his latest quarterly assessment of U.S. expenditures in Afghanistan, posted in May, the same month the first Black Hawk was flown in an Afghanistan operation by the emerging air force.  Fine’s report reads, “Black Hawks do not have the lift capability” of the Russian aircraft. The helicopters also “are unable to accommodate some of the larger cargo items the Mi-17 can carry, and in general it takes almost two Black Hawks to carry the load of a single Mi-17,” Fine said. “Unlike the Mi-17, Black Hawks cannot fly at high elevations and, as such, cannot operate in remote regions of Afghanistan where Mi-17s operate.” As the Mi-17 is phased out in favour of the Black Hawk, the challenges “will become more pronounced,” Fine wrote.

Aside from flying capabilities, Fine wrote that the Afghan Air Force performs 80 percent of maintenance on the Russian rotorcraft but will have to depend on contractors “in the near to mid-term” for the more complex Black Hawk.

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