The three Mi-35 multi-role helicopters India donated to Afghanistan have made a big difference in the offensive against militants in the war-torn country, the outgoing commander of US forces in Afghanistan has said.
“They do have three Mi-35s from India. They’ll have a fourth one coming in pretty soon that will add to their inventory as well and that’ll make a great difference,” General John Campbell told the House Armed Services Committee during a US Congressional hearing on Afghanistan on Wednesday.
The Mi-35, a comprehensive upgrade of the Mi-24, is a versatile helicopter gunship with troop carrying capabilities.
Campbell, who has commanded US and international forces in Afghanistan for the past 18 months, is expected to retire. Lieutenant General John Nicholson has been chosen by President Barack Obama to replace Campbell.
In January, three multi-role Mi-35 attack helicopters from India were inducted into the Afghan Air Force, giving the country’s security forces a much-needed lethal teeth against militant groups like the Taliban.
The Indian gift to Afghanistan has been hailed by the people and government of Afghanistan, and also by the US.
Campbell’s remarks on India’s donation of helicopters came in response to a question from congressman Rob Wittman who wanted to know about the capabilities of the Afghan Air Force.
The three helicopters were handed over to Afghanistan during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kabul in December last year. The fourth helicopter is expected to be delivered soon.