New Delhi:The first of the four Russian origin choppers that have been gifted to the neighbouring nation has arrived in Afghanistan, with three more on the way, said senior officials. India has delivered its first major offensive military platform to Kabul, with a Mi 25 attack helicopter reaching Afghanistan earlier this month.
The attack helicopters, designed to take on fortified enemy positions and flying in troops to locations prone to heavy ground fire, will join the Afghanistan Air Force that already operates three of the Indian built Cheetal light helicopters.
The delivery marks the first time India has gifted offensive combat capability to Afghanistan, a sensitive topic in the past due to strong objections by Pakistan. Under the agreement, which has the approval of Russia which is the original manufacturer, India will also train Afghan defence personnel on operations.
In the past, India has transferred non-lethal equipment, including vehicles, transport choppers, communication equipment and medical supplies to Afghanistan. However India is a major training partner with Kabul sending across cadets for various courses as well as basic officers training programs.
India is currently in the process of retiring its Mi 25 chopper fleet that are being replaced with newer generation Apache choppers that have already been contracted from the US this year under a government-to-government deal.
The Mi 25 transfer is the second helicopter dispatch to take place this year. In April, India delivered three military choppers to Kabul weeks ahead of the first visit by Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani. The three Cheetal utility helicopters were manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited ( HAL) with Afghan pilots and technicians trained to operate them.