Three more helicopters were added to the fleet of the Afghan Air Force (AAF) with the completion of delivery of three multi-role helicopters from India.
According to reports, the multi-role Cheetal helicopters were formally added to the fleet of the AAF after they were test flown on 15th April.
The allied equipment and speares of the helicopters were also delivered to the Afghan Air Force.
According to the Indian newspapers, the Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh, in a written reply, told Lok Sabha, “The helicopters were dispatched to Afghanistan on April 9. These helicopters have been test flown and accepted by Afghanistan pilots on April 15.”
Mr. Singh quoted in the reports further added that the three Cheetal helicopters were based on an agreement with the Ministry of External Affairs.
Cheetals are the upgraded version of Cheetah light utility, multi-role helicopters built by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
Cheetal helicopter is equipped with a Turbomeca TM 333-2M2 free turbine turboshaft engine. Compared to the 560 km of the Cheetah helicopter, Cheetal has a range of about 640 km.
Cheetal also provides a higher payload capacity of 90 kg, compared to the 50 kg of Cheetah.
The helicopters can be used for personnel transport, evacuation, reconnaissance and aerial survey. It is also capable of operating in the high-altitude areas.
The delivery of the helicopters by India comes as the Afghan Air Force received the first six Armed MD-530s last month with the NATO Train, Assist, Advise Command-Air and 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, saying that the armed MD-530s will increase the Afghan Air Force aerial fires capability.
Armed Mi-17s and MD-530s give the Afghan Air Force six times the number of armed aircraft for Fighting Season 2015 as compared to last fighting season, which only employed five Mi-35s.
Pentagon awarded MD Helicopters Inc. a maximum $44.2 million firm-fixed-price contract last year to develop and provide an armament package for the MD-530F helicopters that were already supplied to the Afghan Air Force.
Around 17 of the Afghan Air Force’s MD-530F helicopter will be upgraded under the contract which is expected to be completed early next year.
MD-530F helicopters are designed for high altitude and/or hot weather operations, where thinner air costs helicopters some of their lift.