Warplanes: Sanctions Backfire In Strange Ways

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September 12, 2016: In early 2016 the Afghan Air Force received the first of three of four used Mi-25 helicopter gunships from India. Afghanistan, India and Pakistan already operate some M-24s as well as the upgraded version (Mi-35). The Mi-25 is an export version of the Mi-24. India is replacing its Mi-25s with American AH-64s and offered some of the Mi-24s to Afghanistan as a gift. For months India was unable to deliver the fourth Mi-25 because getting accessories or spare parts for Russian aircraft has become very difficult to do legally since 2014. That’s when most of the world places economic and weapons embargoes on Russia because of the Ukraine invasion. India is seeking alternate sources for Mi-25 parts and was having a hard time finding them. India has assured Afghanistan that more Mi-25s will be delivered when the spare parts problem is solved. Eventually the United States was persuaded to reduce sanctions on the Russian firm that provides support and spare parts for Russian helicopters the U.S. bought for Afghanistan as well as those the Afghans obtained from other sources..

India is switching to more expensive, but more capable Western aircraft after depending on Russian aircraft since the 1960s. India is retiring its remaining Russian Mi-25 and Mi-35 helicopter gunships by the end of the decade. It can afford to refurbish a dozen or more and give them to Afghanistan, which likes the low price (often nothing) and simplicity of the Russian helicopters.

The Mi-24/25 is a twelve ton chopper based on the Mi-8/17 transport. The U.S. did the same thing with the AH-1, developing it from the UH-1 "Huey." But rather than adopt the two seater (one pilot behind the other) approach of the AH-1 and AH-64 Apache, the Mi-24 could still carry troops or cargo in the back, and was not as nimble as the AH-1. The new 11 ton Mi-28 looks more like the AH-64. That's because, by the end of the 1960s, the Russians realized that the AH-1 design was superior and is now replacing its Mi-24s with the Mi-28.

 


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