On December 12, the Taliban claimed that its fighters had shot down a helicopter of the Afghan Air Force (AAF) over the northern province of Faryab.
“Amid ongoing Operation al-Khandagh, an enemy helicopter has been shot downed in the area of Sar Hawz of the district of Pashtun Kot late today, killing and wounding all gunmen inside,” the Afghan group official news agency, Voice of Jihad, said in a a short press release.
The Taliban launched Operation al-Khandagh launched on April 25 in response to Washington’s decision to increase the US military presence in Afghanistan.
Two days after Taliban announcement, Afghan sources released a photo of the destroyed helicopter, which forced a spokesman of the Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan, Ghafoor Ahmad Jawed, to address the incident.
According to Jawed, issues related to high load of flights and maintenance problems were behind the helicopter crash.
“When a helicopter plans a flight, the time and other matters are checked, but sometimes mechanical issues occur and besides that, we are in an intense war,” the TOLO TV quoted Jawed as saying.
Naqibullah Fayiq, governor of Faryab, also denied the Taliban’s claims and told TOLO that no Afghan service members were killed or injured in the incident.
The helicopter was identified a Russian-made Mi-17. The AAF operates more than 50 Mi-8\17 helicopters in its “Special Mission Wing.” These helicopters are mainly used to support the special operations of the Afghan National Army (ANA) Commandos.
The AAF lost ten helicopters in the last nine months, most of them were Mi-17s. During the last two years, the NATO singed several contracts with companies in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia [all members of the US-led pact] to maintain this type of helicopters without involving Russia. This may be the reason behind the bad technical condition of these of helicopters. Russian defense experts had warned the NATO from relying on inexperienced companies to maintain them.