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India to restore grounded aircraft in Afghanistan

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2016 7:08 am    Post subject: India to restore grounded aircraft in Afghanistan Reply with quote

India to restore grounded aircraft in Afghanistan

November 27, 2016

After supplying four attack helicopters to Afghanistan, India is quietly moving to qualitatively scale up military assistance in terms of long-term spares and support.

This involves a trilateral framework with Russia, officials confirmed to The Hindu who said it is likely to be discussed by Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Prime Minister Narendra Modi when they meet on the sidelines of the sixth Heart of Asia (HoA) ministerial conference in Amritsar later this week, which will be attended by Russia as well.

Two Indian Air Force technical teams visited Afghanistan last month to assess the requirements for spares and maintenance to restore the Soviet-era helicopters and transport aircraft lying there, defence and diplomatic sources told The Hindu.

“There are at least 40-50 helicopters of various types and some An-32 medium transport aircraft which have been grounded from a long time for need of spares. We have asked Indian help in refurbishing them,” diplomatic sources stated.

The teams were tasked to assess the requirements and submit a report on what can be provided by India from its existing inventory and what needs to be procured from Russia which is the original manufacture of the hardware, a Defence Ministry source said. “Based on that we will work out a model with Russia where they will supply the necessary equipment and we will pay for it,” the source added.

Trilateral cooperation

This effectively formalises the trilateral mechanism which was mooted in 2014 in the backdrop of withdrawal of troops by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) but did not make progress at that time due to reluctance of the then UPA government.

Kabul had long been requesting India for offensive military hardware and has several times presented a wish list of urgent military hardware. A revised list was handed over to India in August during the visit of the Chief of Afghan National Army General Qadam Shah Shahim and was discussed at the highest level during Mr. Ghani’s visit in September.

Priority items on the list include utility and attack helicopters, tanks, artillery, ammunition and spares, in addition to help in reviving some of the Soviet-era equipment and factories in Afghanistan.

No new hardware

“The current assessment is specifically for spares and support for the helicopters and aircraft with Afghanistan and does not include supply of new hardware from India. We are waiting for a response from India,” sources said and added that the idea is to extend it other areas as well in future.

India has supplied three Cheetal utility helicopters, and in a major policy shift, agreed to transfer four Mi-25 attack helicopters from its inventory last year. While India seems to be open to supplying lethal hardware, involving Moscow is inevitable as most of the equipment is manufactured in Russia.

This was evident in the case of an Mi-25 helicopter that was grounded due to lack of spares which had to be procured from Russia.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

India May Pay To Repair Afghanistan Aircraft

March 23, 2017

India is considering whether to pay for repairs to grounded helicopters and transport planes from Afghanistan's air force, signalling a willingness to step up military assistance for Kabul that has irked Pakistan in the past.

India estimates it would cost close to $50 million for new parts and repairs to 11 grounded Soviet-made Mi-35 helicopters and seven transport aircraft, after sending a team of experts to assess the Afghan air force's needs last year, the Indian ambassador to Kabul told news agency Reuters.

Afghanistan has repeatedly asked India to increase military assistance, as it struggles to fight Afghan Taliban insurgents who have taken swathes of territory since most foreign troops left the country in late 2014.

New Delhi's readiness to provide more military help, while limited, underlines its desire to help Kabul as other regional powers including Russia and China look to increase their influence in Afghanistan.

"We have been looking at the scale of the challenge the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) faces, particularly in one segment, close air support," ambassador Manpreet Vohra said in an interview in Kabul this week.

"We are trying to see how we can help. They have a large number of attack helicopters and transport aircraft grounded for want of spares, for expiry of certification," he said.

India will decide whether to approve the proposal after final costing is done within a few months.

Most of Afghanistan's small air force dates from the Soviet era, but sanctions against Russia mean Western donors that fund the military cannot pay to get grounded aircraft flying again.

India is not bound by such restrictions, but aside from the transfer in 2015 to Afghanistan of four attack helicopters, New Delhi has been reluctant to commit direct military support, saying it does not have the resources and prefers to help Kabul with development aid.

Under the agreement with Afghanistan, India would pay for the transportation of the aircraft to Russia or other former Soviet states where the planes were manufactured and must be fixed according to licencing agreements, as well as for new parts and repairs, Mr Vohra said.

The ambassador is due to meet the Afghan air chief in the next few weeks. Pakistan has previously warned that India should not be allowed to use Afghan soil to create instability in Pakistan.

India has been one of Afghanistan's biggest allies in the war against the Taliban, training thousands of security personnel, but was not included in the first round of recent Russia-led talks to reboot a stalled peace process.

Afghan and US officials are increasingly worried that any deepening of ties between Russia and the Taliban could complicate the security situation, and analysts say India risks being sidelined in future talks.

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