forces in Afghanistan don't have enough helicopters. This is particularly
embarrassing because U.S. forces are better equipped with helicopters, and
operate more effectively because of it. The problem is that European nations
either don't have helicopters suitable for service in the hot and high (and
dusty, and freezing in the Winter) conditions of Afghanistan, or their
helicopter units are not organized and trained for service overseas, or the
politicians don't want to send their helicopters abroad. The solution is
apparently to lease helicopters, including crews and support personnel, from
civilian firms. Russian firms are prime candidates. Russian and Ukrainian
companies are already supply heavy jet transports for the NATO forces. These
same companies have helicopters available as well. The Russians know their
choppers will work in Afghanistan, because of their experience during the
1980s. Many of the same helicopter types are still in service, although with
updates. Safety and reliability standards for Russian helicopters have also
increased. There are also many non-Russian firms that offer helicopter leasing
for "challenging environments" (mainly oil field or mining operations support).
But the Russians are cheaper, and are less concerned with getting shot at.
In the end, however, the
pleas from the NATO troops for more helicopter support, may simply be ignored
by the politicians back home.