Afghan pilots closer to providing
own air support
Two MI-35 attack helicopters from
the Afghan Army Air Corps launch on a gunnery training
at Kabul International Airport May 27. This mission
was the first time rockets have been flown by the
Afghan Air Corps in more than 10 years and will
eventually allow the
Afghans to provide their own close-air support
Source: United States Central Command (CENTCOM)
KABUL, Afghanistan (June 29, 2009) – After an
absence of nearly a decade, the Afghan Mi-35 is again
flying the skies of Afghanistan, thanks to pilots from
the Afghan National Army Air Corps and the Czech
Republic, military officials here said.
On May 27, Afghan Mi-35 attack helicopters fired
12.7 mm rounds and 57 mm rockets near Bagram Air Base.
Each partnered Afghan and Czech Republic crew fired
200 rounds of ball ammunition and 16 rockets while
practicing gunnery on the East River Range Complex.
The practice session was the culmination of more than
a year’s work to rebuild the Mi-35 program, which
gives the Afghan National Army dedicated, armed
aircraft for the first time in eight years.
The seven-hour training was supported by personnel
and equipment from the ANAAC, the Czech Republic
Operational Mentor and Liaison Team, Combined Security
Transition Command - Afghanistan mentors and personnel
from Task Force Thunder at Bagram Air Base. After the
completion of the live-fire training, the lead pilot
from the Czech team, Major Juracka, commented, “The
Afghan shooting was perfect.”
The Czech team began ground training and limited
flight training for Afghan Mi-35 crewmembers last
summer. In January, Afghan Mi-35 training increased
greatly with the arrival of six refurbished
helicopters. Since then, the Czech team has completed
assessments on nine pilots and added a more aggressive
To date, the Afghan pilots have received training
on pre-mission planning, contact maneuvers, emergency
procedures, navigation, and presidential escort
operations. After the completion of their gunnery
tables, the Afghan pilots will receive training on
pre-planned and close air support combat missions.
Future Mi-35 initiatives will put even more
emphasis on independent Afghan training operations.
The Afghan air corps is building its own arming points
and is working on an initiative to complete all its
Mi-35 live-fire training at Afghan facilities, while
the Kabul Military Training Center is developing
standardized Mi-35 live-fire training procedures. The
air corps also is researching live-fire training
locations throughout Afghanistan to better integrate
the Mi-35 with the army. All of the efforts are aimed
at decreasing the time for an Mi-35 training flight
from seven to three hours, effectively doubling the
amount of live-fire sorties that can be accomplished
in a day.
The Mi-35’s combat radius permits it to conduct
combat operations anywhere in the country. The
aircraft’s unique design allows it to be used in
attack, air assault or medical evacuation roles. It
can be configured with a 12.7 mm Gatling type machine
gun, 57 mm rocket pods, and the AT-6 Spiral Anti-tank
guided missile. The helicopters typically fly with
1,470 rounds of ball ammunition, 128 rockets and two
“The new capability is good for the Afghan National
Army and for the country of Afghanistan,” Afghan Maj.
Gen. Dawran, the air corps commander, said.