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UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopters

The United States decided to field the Sirkorsky UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter to the Afghan Air Force (AAF). The first of these highly advanced utility helicopters were delivered in September 2017. The current utility / cargo helicopter used by the AAF is the Mi-17. These Russian helicopters have performed well and are well suited for the Afghanistan environment . . .  however, political considerations have forced the U.S. military to opt for the more expensive and complicated UH-60.

Pilot Training. The UH-60 is a complicated flying machine and it will time some time to re-train current Afghan helicopter pilots and select and train new helicopter pilots for this aircraft. The pilot training will take place at Fort Rucker, Alabama and Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Maintenance. The repair and maintenance of the Black Hawk is much more complicated than the Mi-17. It is doubtful that the AAF can select and train sufficient mechanics and maintenance personnel to properly maintain the Black Hawks. For the next few years the Afghans will rely on U.S. funding of contract maintenance services to keep these aircraft in the air.

Numbers of Black Hawks. The AAF will receive 159 Black Hawks. The choppers are former US Army helicopters that are being upgraded and refurbished prior to delivery to Afghanistan. The full delivery of all 159 aircraft should be completed by 2023.

Mission of AAF's Black Hawks. The aircraft will be used for logistics support, casualty evacuation, close air support, aerial reconnaissance, and troop transportation.

Political Considerations. Unfortunately, the Mi-17 is the perferred helicopter for the Afghans. The Afghan Air Force has used the Mi-17 for decades. The choppers greater lift capacitiy and ability to fly in the high mountainous terrain of Afghanistan puts it ahead of the Black Hawk in many critical areas.

 

 


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