A trio of Afghan Mi-17 helicopters quietly arrive at the US Air Force cemetery


Three Russian-made Mi-17 Hip helicopters previously owned by the now defunct Afghan Air Force arrived at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona yesterday and are expected to be stored in the Bone Cemetery . These planes appear to be among those that Afghan pilots and other personnel used to flee to neighboring Uzbekistan when the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August. It is also the first concrete evidence that US authorities are taking over at least some of the ex-Afghan military planes now scattered around the world, the vast majority of which were originally purchased by the US government.

Thanks to the help of @ az.aviator on Instagram, we learned that the helicopter trio arrived at Davis-Monthan aboard the only Antonov An-124 Ruslan cargo plane belonging to Maximus Air, a division of the UAE-based Abu Dhabi Aviation Group, according to a separate source familiar with the expedition. It also appears to be the first time that Maximus Air’s An-124, which carries the Ukrainian registration code UR-ZYD, has visited the United States.

While we cannot say with absolute certainty where UR-ZYD first picked up the helicopters, online flight tracking software shows the plane flew from Abu Dhabi International Airport in the Emirates. Arab Emirates at Bukhara International Airport in Uzbekistan on November 10, 2021. The same day, he returned to the United Arab Emirates, but landed at Al Ain International Airport. Then, on November 17, he left Al Ain for Davis-Monthan, passing through Oslo in Norway and Denver, Colorado.

The government of Uzbekistan said in August that some 22 fixed-wing aircraft and 24 helicopters belonging to the Afghan Air Force had crossed the border. Satellite imagery that The war zone obtained confirmed that the vast majority, if not all, of these planes landed at Termez airport, located within 10 miles of Afghanistan. In addition to the Mi-17s, the helicopters that visited Uzbekistan included a number of UH-60A + Black Hawks. A-29 light attack aircraft, AC-208 Armed Light Utility Aircraft, Cessna 208 caravan small transport, and Pilatus PC-12NG Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms were among the types of ex-Afghan Air Force fixed-wing aircraft seen at Termez.

Bukhara is located about 230 miles northwest of Termez and it wouldn’t necessarily have been difficult to move one of these planes there to ship it elsewhere.

When contacted for comment, the US Air Force declined to confirm whether the Mi-17s had ever been in the Afghan Air Force, but acknowledged their arrival and offered additional context.

The Afghanistan Defense and Security Cooperation Management Office is downgrading U.S. and multinational aircraft from U.S. and foreign maintenance support facilities to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Base to Tucson, Arizona, ”Derek Kaufman, spokesperson. for Air Force Material Command (AFMC) said The war zone. “We are unable to provide details on the timing of future arrivals, however, we can confirm that three Mi-17s have arrived today.”

The 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) is the unit in charge of Davis-Monthan cemetery. The Pentagon established the Defense and Security Cooperation-Afghanistan Management Office in Qatar in July as part of the planned withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan ahead of the Taliban takeover. The main task of this office was to coordinate security assistance programs for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), “to include aircraft maintenance support on the horizon,” US officials . had explained at the time of its creation. Previously, this support went through an office in Afghanistan itself.