The U.S. military has been flying UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter missions in Afghanistan for years, but the storied aircraft will soon take to the country’s battlefields manned by pilots and crews from the Afghan military.
The first group of Afghan trainees is in the final phase of instruction by U.S. advisers at an air base in southern Kandahar province, as part of the process of transitioning Afghanistan’s military from Soviet-era Mi-17 helicopters to the U.S.-made Black Hawks. They are scheduled to begin flying missions in May.
“The Mi-17 that the UH-60 is going to replace is not sustainable as a helicopter, so what we are doing, we are giving to the Afghan Air Force sustainable, very highly capable and battle-proven helicopters so that they can take the fight forward as they continue to safeguard this country,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Ted Rogers, director of operations for the 441st Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron. He called the transition “hugely important.”