Defence Minister Marise Payne has announced the Afghanistan Army’s refurbished ex-US Army Black Hawk helicopters will be supported by ADF personnel as they build up the capability.
Afghanistan will acquire up to 160 refurbished UH-60A+ helicopters over the next seven year to replace MiL Mi-17V5 Hip helicopters which Australia has funded the operations of under the Afghan National Army Trust Fund, but have suffered from poor serviceability.
Minister Payne said 20 ADF personnel would provide aviation advice and force protection as a[rt of its 300-strong commitment to Afghanistan under Operation Highroad.
“Australia is one of only a few nations in the international coalition currently flying Black Hawks and we will be able to provide qualified personnel to support the introduction of this important platform,” Minister Payne said in a statement. “The Black Hawks are a critical battlefield enabler that will provide the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces with increased air mobility and response capabilities for ground forces.
“Australia will also continue to fund the sustainment of Afghanistan’s current fleet of Mi-17 helicopters as it transitions to the Black Hawk through the Afghan National Army Trust Fund.”