The U.S. Department of Defense is providing the Afghanistan Air Force with up to 159 refurbished UH-60A Black Hawk helicopters made by Stratford-based Sikorsky as a replacement for its fleet of 78 Russian Mi-17 transport helicopters.
According to a Military Times report, Afghanistan’s government is welcoming the U.S. helicopters as a vital strategy in strengthening its security forces and ending the stalemate in its ongoing conflict with terrorist forces. “We are in the midst of an insurgency where the enemy is getting tacit support from neighboring countries,” said Ahmad Shah Katawazai, defense liaison and security expert at the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C. “Our security forces are under immense pressure as they are fighting each day, on several fronts, with more than 20 terrorist organizations.”
The U.S. defense budget includes $814 million designated to aid Afghanistan’s air force, which includes funds for 53 of the 159 Black Hawks. The first delivery is expected in approximately 21 months, and Defense Department officials anticipate delivering 30 Black Hawks per year.