Afghanistan will ask for the delivery of more Mi-25 gunship helicopters from India as the Afghan National Army (ANA) chief of staff Gen. Qadam Shah Shaheem visits New Delhi next week.
Sources in New Delhi have said Gen. Shaheem will hand over a wish list of Afghanistan that will include more Mi-25 gunship helicopters, small choppers and medical emergencies as well as spares for the existing Russian-origin aircraft.
The Afghan Ambassador to India Shaida Abdali told Reuters regarding Gen. Shaheem’s visit to New Delhi “We are grateful for the four helicopters. But we need more, we need much more. Today we are heading into a situation that is worrisome for everyone in the region including India.”
India started the delivery of lethal military equipment to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces late in December 2015.
The Afghan Air Force received 3 of the 4 Mi-25 gunship helicopters late in the month of December which coincided with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Afghanistan.
The Indian sources have said India is preparing the fourth gunship helicopter for the delivery to the Afghan armed forces and hope hope that the delivery will be doen in the near future.
“The fourth helicopter is yet to be transferred. It needs spares before it can be made fully operational and the spares have to come from Russia,” diplomatic sources told The Hindu local newspaper.
The sources further added that efforts were on to fix the issue. “There was an issue with the spares. It is being sorted out. It should be delivered very soon,” a senior defence official said without specifying a timeframe.
The four helicopters were taken from the inventory of the Indian Air Force (IAF) at the Air Force station in Pathankot. The IAF operates Russian-built Mi-25 and Mi-35 attack helicopters which are to be phased out very soon.