- Russian state exporter’s president believes that a significant portion of the fleet has already been grounded.
- The Taliban, on the other hand, will be unable to use them effectively because they will have limited access to maintenance crews and spare parts.
- According to a report released in July by the US SIGAR, the Afghan military had 56 Mi-17 helicopters, of which only 32 were operational.
According to a Russian state arms exporter, the Taliban have captured more than 100 Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters from various airbases and army depots across war-torn Afghanistan since seizing control of the country in late 2014.
According to the Interfax news agency, the Taliban has captured more than 100 Mi-17 helicopters of various types, which were purchased by the United States for the Afghan armed forces and are now in their possession.
As a result of their lack of access to maintenance crews and spare parts, according to Alexander Mikheev, the head of Russia’s state exporter Rosoboronexporter, the Taliban will be unable to make effective use of the weapons.
“Of course, this fleet will require repair, maintenance, and spare parts supply,” he said, noting that a large portion of the fleet may already be grounded due to the situation.
A July report from the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (Sigar) stated that the Afghan military had 56 Mi-17 helicopters, of which only 32 were operational and in the country, in contrast to Mikheev’s estimate of the total number of Russian-built helicopters.
It is unclear how many of those helicopters are currently in operational condition, as both the US drawdown of its armed forces and the Taliban offensive have taken a toll on the Afghan air force’s readiness.
Earlier this month, videos of Taliban fighters flying in a Mi-17 had surfaced on the internet. However, there are no indications that the Taliban is using the helicopters in combat operations at this time.
US procurement of Mi-17 helicopters began in 2005, with the country purchasing at least 50 helicopters from the Russian state exporter before plans to purchase an additional 30 helicopters were stymied by the opposition in Congress in 2013.
“As soon as the maintenance personnel cease to work, the equipment ceases to be operational in accordance with Russian standards,” Mikheev explained.
Afghan pilots fled with their military aircraft across the border into Uzbekistan as the Taliban closed in on the Afghan capital and forced it to surrender. According to a government statement, 46 Afghan aircraft, including 24 helicopters, were forced to land in Uzbekistan as a result of the conflict in the central Asian country.
According to satellite photos of the aircraft, 19 of them appear to be Mi-17s and nine of them appear to be Black Hawks.