Afghanistan and Russia will a sign an agreement for the delivery of Mi-35 gunship helicopters, it has been reported.

Zamir Kabulov, President Putin’s special representative for Afghanistan, has said the agreement is expected to be signed by the two countries during the ongoing month.

Without disclosing the exact the agreement would be signed, Kabulov, said the Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed Moscow to deliver the gunships to Afghanistan in a bid to boost the capabilities of the Afghan army.

“Russia is already providing certain assistance in strengthening the capabilities of the Afghan government forces,” Kabulov quoted by local media said.

Kabul further added that Russia delivers weaponry to Afghanistan and provides military training for Afghan officers.

This comes as Shakir Kargar, special envoy to President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries, said earlier in April this year that negotiations regarding the purchase of Mi-35 helicopters will begin in the near future.

In the meantime, the First Vice President, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum has requested Moscow to provide military assistance to the Afghan security forces during his visit to Russia.

The Afghan national security forces are in critical need of air support amid deteriorating security situation across the country with the rampant insurgency activities by the Taliban militants.

The Afghan Air Force received the first six Armed MD-530s earlier this year 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.

However, the Afghan Air Force officials are saying that the helicopters have proved to be insufficient to meet their demands considering the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan and the effective range of the helicopters.

Col. Qalandar Shah Qalandari of the Afghan Air Force said the helicopters cannot even reach areas where the Taliban normally operate and in summertime, the maximum altitude of the helicopters with a full load of fuel and ammunition is only 7,000 to 8,000 feet — meaning it cannot cross most of the mountain ranges that encircle Kabul, which is itself at an elevation of about 6,000 feet.

“It’s unsafe to fly, the engine is too weak, the tail rotor is defective and it’s not armored. If we go down after the enemy we’re going to have enemy return fire, which we can’t survive. If we go up higher, we can’t visually target the enemy,” Colonel Qalandari quoted by New York Times said. “Even the guns are no good.”


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