22-Mar-2010 Source: HeliHub.com
After two years operating in the UK, the two British Mi-17s have now been shipped to Afghanistan, where they have been donated to the local forces.Â Purchased from Bulgaria, and serialled ZB697 and ZB698, the two helicopters were shipped out Thursday last week aboard an An-124 freighter operated by Polet, and were still in their red/white/blue scheme.Â We expect that this will be repainted to a suitable camouflage on arrival.
A total of 27 Afghan Aircrew were trained as part of the two year “Project Curium” programme run by the UK Joint Helicopter Command (JHC) from the Boscombe Down base in Wiltshire, supported throughout by QinetiQ. They will fly the Mi-17 when they return to Afghanistan where their training will continue.
Wg Cdr Al Smith, Officer Commanding the Special Duties Squadron (SDS) said “The students, who are officers in the Afghan National Security Force, took part in English classes before beginning their flight training with 10 hours on a Firefly aeroplane before each spending over 60 hours in the Gazelle helicopter. They then transferred to the Mi-17 helicopter, flying over 40-hours each including basics in tactical flying, formation keeping, confined area landings and some defensive manoeuvres. Their training will continue once they arrive in Afghanistan, preparing them for operating in the hot and high conditions there, enabling them to both build on and share what they have learnt.”
QinetiQ initially provided Release to Service recommendations for the two Curium Mi-17 aircraft, enabling them to be placed on the UK military register, with follow on recommendations to increase capability. It has subsequently provided a comprehensive range of managed services including airworthiness capability and the full range of engineering support needed to maintain the aircraft. The QinetiQ team of over 25 has also been fully supported in engineering activities by its sub-contractor Helisota, a Lithuanian maintenance and repair company with extensive Mi-17 aircraft experience. Helisota has provided several engineers with specific Mi-17 experience to assist in the maintenance of the aircraft as well as providing Post Design Services capability.