Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Former US adversaries to buy Russian attack choppers…with US consent

According to the last year’s contract Iraq is to buy 10 Mi-28NE Night Hunter (NATO codename: Havoc) along with armament and equipment, defence24.pl reports.

It is the first delivery of choppers, being a part of a bundle of contracts between Iraq and Russia. The aggregate value is claimed to be of around $4.3 billion – it is indeed quite a lot.

Image Credit: blog.naver.com

The Iraq’s Mi-28NE, being an export derivative of Mi-28N, are to increase the defense capabilities of the country significantly.

The equipment of the helicopter is pretty much the same as of the version used by the Russian Air Force and it includes: thermal imaging system, night vision system, Almaz-280 radar with a range of 10km. The radar is capable of detecting both ground and aerial targets.

Another peculiar feature of the Havoc is an integrated fly-by-wire system, capable of flying at low levels in an automated mode.

The armament is a 30mm cannon and several models of missiles, including Ataka anti-tank guided missiles as well as (quite unusual for an attack helicopter) air-to-air Igla-W and R-60 AAMs.

Not only does the Rosoboronexport offer include 10 helicopters, but it also contains pilots and ground crew training, supply of spare parts and armaments. It is the first contract of the two-party agreement.

Iraqi now being a democratic country, guided by the US may afford such expensive contract. As capt. Saad Al Khadfaji said in his interview for Arabian Aerospace: ‘We are a rich country. Our budget was $110 billion last year, and it will increase this year, so money is not a big issue’.

In the light of the above, $4.3 billion purchase of the Russian helicopters is just a tiny bit of the huge amount of money Iraq has at its disposal, probably thanks to the crude oil still being a valuable asset in the international market.

Iraq is not the sole former US adversary that buys military equipment from (another) former US enemy (Russia). Afghanistan also is to buy Mi-17V5’s until end of this year. A tripartite agreement between US, Afghanistan and Russia is a basis for this decision.

Image Credit: helicopter-database.de

Rosoboronexport was to deliver 21 helicopters, with prospects of delivering another 12 pieces for the Afghan Armed Forces. The value of the Afghan contract, which is paid by Pentagon (sic!) is to be of $900 million.

This contract has been harshly critizized in the US, as it avoids the prohibition of armament purchases from Rosoboronexport. The prohibition was implemented by the US congress.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

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Impressive: huge Merlin helicopter eaten by C-17 cargo

After flying more than 18,000 hours in Afghanistan, moving more than 7,900 tonnes of kit and stores and transporting over 130,000 personnel since 2009, RAF Merlin helicopters have finished their deployment in the Helmand region, where they have primarly flown troop transport missions.

***STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.001 TUESDAY 4 JUNE 2013***   FINAL OPERATIONS FOR MERLIN HELICOPTER FLEET AS UK DRAWDOWN IN AFGHANISTAN CONTINUES

The following images where released by the UK MoD, and show one of the large, partly disassembled choppers (the same used for the 2012 Olympic opener and latest 007 movie) inside a RAF C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft used to bring the Merlins back home.

***STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.001 TUESDAY 4 JUNE 2013***   FINAL OPERATIONS FOR MERLIN HELICOPTER FLEET AS UK DRAWDOWN IN AFGHANISTAN CONTINUES

Image credit: Sergeant Barry Pope, Crown copyright

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Rare video of U.S. spyplane used to track high-value and time-sensitive targets, including people

The following video shows an MC-12W Liberty of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing during a mission over Afghanistan.

Although scarcely known, the MC-12W is one of the most valuable U.S. ISR (intelligence surveillance reconnaissance) platforms: it is used to supports ground forces tracking high-value and time-sensitive targets, including people, as well as provide tactical intelligence and airborne command and control for air-to-ground operations.

Indeed, the MC-12W, that took part to the last Red Flag at Nellis Air Force Base in February 2013, is a spyplane specialized in “find, fix, and finish” bad guys.

IMG_4500

The footage is particularly interesting as scenes not only include take off and recovery ops but also interior of aircraft, Wescam sensors, night operations, operators and tactical systems operators: a rare glimpse inside such a rare, spooky bird.

Note the HD live video provided to the sensors operators on board the Liberty by the aircraft’s Wescam camera.

The MC-12W is a military version of the Hawker Beechcraft Super King Air 350 and Super King 350ER: the U.S. Air Force plane was given a full array of sensors, a ground exploitation cell, line-of-sight and satellite communications datalinks, along with a robust voice communications suite.

The aircraft is equipped with an electro-optical infrared sensor and other sensors as the mission requires. The EO/IR sensor also includes a laser illuminator and designator in a single sensor package. The MC-12 system is capable of worldwide operations.

It lacks only weapons. At least for the moment….

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Russia’s NATO to have its own Air Force

Taking into account the latest crisis events that include the Steadfast Jazz Exercise in Poland and the Zapad 2013 event, as well as simulated attack on Sweden, it is interesting that the Russian NATO counterpart, CSTO, is going to have own air force, as it was revealed by Russian documents last month.

Collective Security Treaty Organization is an intergovernmental military alliance between Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.

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Image credit: Igor Dvurekov/Wiki

The eventual Collective Air Force (CAF) would be equipped with combat helicopters (provided by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan) to conduct CAS (Close Air Support) missions, and cargo planes, to move CSTO forces supporting the alliance’s operations.

The CAF would have in Kant airport, in Kyrgyzstan, where a Russian Air Force contingent is already deployed, its main operating base.

However, the information may not be totally viable, as the budget of CSTO is tight.

According to defence24.pl analyst, Piotr Maciążek, two upcoming events could led to the creation of such air component.

First, NATO is preparing to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, leaving the country unstable. The Russians have already claimed that they are going to send some ‘peacekeepers’ to the ex-Taliban-ruled country.

Second, the succession in Uzbekistan, which has a great chance of destabilizing the region.

Provided it can be funded by the participating countries, each providing the required assets, with its own Air Force, CSTO would have the capability to intervene in the region should the need to police it arise.

Written with David Cenciotti

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U.S. Air Force KC-135 crash in Kyrgyzstan update

More details about the KC-135 Stratotanker belonging to the 22 ARW (Air Refueling Wing) from McConnell Air Force Base that crashed on May 3, 2013 in Kyrgyzstan have surfaced in the last hours.

The plane, operating from Manas crashed at 2:55 p.m. (Kyrgyzstan time) near Chaldovar, a village located about 100 miles west of the departure airport.

According to U.S. media outlets, the aircraft was on a refueling mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, with three crew members aboard: pilot, copilot and boom operator.

The aircraft, KC-135R 63-8877, had left McConnell AFB using callsign “RCH806” on Apr. 30. It made a stopover in RAF Mildenhall, on May 1 and departed again to Manas on the following day: the one on May 3 may have been the first operative sortie since its arrival in theater.

KC-135 crashed

The doomed plane during a recent visit to RAF Mildenhall. Image credit: Tony Lovelock

Bodies of the three crew members were recovered by search teams.

Although the nose section of the aircraft has not yet been found, few pieces of the plane, including a part of the tail, were found on a grassy field bordered by mountains; images of the two impact points seems to prove that the plane, or part of it, hit the ground at very high-speed.

kc-135_crash

Image credit: Kloop.kg

Some local eye witnesses told reporters that they heard an explosion and then saw the plane splitting into three pieces.

kc-135_crash 2

Image credit: Kloop.kg

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