The Afghan Air Force has received two Indian helicopters.
At a ceremony on Tuesday at the military airbase in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, the Indian government formally handed over two Mi-35s to the Afghan Air Force, which were donated in support of Afghanistan’s counterterrorism efforts. India’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, Vinay Kumar, and the acting Afghan Defense Minister, Asadullah Khalid, attended the ceremony.
Fawad Aman, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, tweeted several images of the ceremony, showing that the helicopters bore the numbers 125 and 126.
Two Mi 35 attack helicopters gifted by India to Afghan forces. pic.twitter.com/xpfgKOL2Qg
— Fawad Aman (@FawadAman2) October 15, 2019
These Mi-35s – as well as a pair delivered earlier in the year – are replacements for four helicopters India transferred to Afghanistan between 2015 and 2016.
In a statement quoted by TOLO News, Ambassador Kumar said, “India supports peace and harmony in Afghanistan and assists all Afghans in securing a better future. The Afghan National Defense Security Forces [have made a] stellar effort to provide an umbrella of security to achieve shared and common values against cross-border terrorism and internal threats.”
Acting Defense Minister Khalid thanked the Indian government for the helicopters, saying the Afghan military “will uses these helicopters for bringing peace, preventing threats from enemies, and for providing a better environment for the people of Afghanistan.”
The Afghan military is presently fighting the Taliban insurgency, which continues to carry out attacks even as Washington seeks to reach a settlement with the insurgent group that would allow for the withdrawal of American troops. The Taliban has refused to negotiate with the Afghan government, and there is concern that any peace accord struck between the U.S. and the Taliban could fall apart as the U.S. downsizes its presence in the country.