US Gives Afghanistan 159 Black Hawks To Bolster Its Aging Helo Fleet

news
wo U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters prepares for takeoff at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on Dec 4, 2011.
U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht

The U.S. military is giving the Afghan Air Force some much needed support: 159 Black Hawk helicopters to replace its aging fleet of Russian Mi-17 transport helicopters, according to Military Times. The first delivery, expected in 2019, is part of Afghanistan’s plan to double the size of its special forces and strengthen its air force.


The hope is that the newly acquired UH-60 Black Hawks will help the Afghan military break its current stalemate with the Taliban — which controls large swathes of the country — by providing much needed mobility and leverage for security forces. The plan has been in the works since 2016, and there are concerns that it may not come to fruition in time to be of significant help.

Related: As The Taliban Retakes Sangin In Afghanistan, Veterans Remember Its Dark Legacy »

“We are in the midst of an insurgency where the enemy is getting tacit support from neighboring countries,” Ahmad Shah Katawazai, a defense liaison and security expert at the Afghan embassy in Washington, told Military Times. “Our security forces are under immense pressure as they are fighting each day, on several fronts, with more than 20 terrorist organizations.”

The new helos will nearly double the Afghan military’s current fleet of 78-Mi17s, but there are concerns that the 159 new aircraft will burden the local forces’ already-undermanned maintenance staff.

“Given that it takes substantial U.S. support to maintain the airframes that the Afghan Air Force has already, it doesn't seem feasible that they would be able to support that many Black Hawks without a significant contribution from NATO,” Dr. Matthew Archibald, an independent researcher and consultant on South Asian issues, told Military Times.

The Afghan military — like the U.S.-led coalition — has leaned heavily on airpower for troop transport and offensive operations. The latest estimates from the the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction show that roughly 18 of the Afghan Air Force’s Mi-17s are currently unusable — though the report notes that most of the issues with the old Russian helos are due to overuse.

In addition to the Black Hawks, Afghanistan will be getting a few fixed-wing aircraft — six A-29 fixed wing close attack aircraft and five armed AC-208s — as well as 30 MD-530 Cayuse Warrior ground attack helicopters.

An Army staff sergeant who "represents the very best of the 101st Airborne Division" has finally received a Silver Star for his heroic actions during the Battle of the Bulge after a 75-year delay.

On Sunday, Staff Sgt. Edmund "Eddie" Sternot was posthumously awarded with a Silver Star for his heroics while leading a machine gun team in the Ardennes Forest. The award, along with Sternot's Bronze Star and Purple Heart, was presented to his only living relative, Sternot's first cousin, 80-year-old Delores Sternot.

Read More Show Less

Army officers who are on the short list to become a battalion commander will now undergo a psychological exam.

Read More Show Less

U.S. special operations forces are currently field testing a lightweight combat armor designed to cover more of an operator's body than previous protective gear, an official told Task & Purpose.

The armor, called the Lightweight Polyethylene (PE) Armor for Extremity Protection, is one of a handful of subsystems to come out of U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) effort that media outlets dubbed the "Iron Man suit," Navy Lieutenant Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, a SOCOM spokesman, told Task & Purpose on Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
Petty Officer Derek Buitrago and his wife, Sandra, say they found black mold along their Corvias home's baseboards (Courtesy of Covington & Burling)

Ten military families are taking their privatized housing provider, Corvias, to court over "appalling housing conditions and cavalier treatment" at Fort Meade in Maryland, according to a new lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed on Tuesday by law firm Covington & Burling —which is handling the lawsuit pro bono, according to their press release — details "distressingly similar stories of poorly maintained infrastructure leading to serious problems, such as mold growing on walls, windows, and pipes," at the the installation.

The lawsuit was first reported by the Washington Post. The defendants identified include Corvias Management-Army LLC and Meade Communities, LLC, which is a part of Corvias.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senior Democratic and Republican lawmakers presented dueling narratives on Wednesday as a U.S. congressional impeachment inquiry that threatens Donald Trump's tumultuous presidency entered a crucial new phase with the first televised public hearing.

The drama unfolded in a hearing of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee in which two career U.S. diplomats - William Taylor and George Kent - voiced alarm over the Republican president and those around him pressuring Ukraine to conduct investigations that would benefit Trump politically.

Read More Show Less