Murphy's Law: Not Tough Enough

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February 7, 2010: The Swedish Air Force has refused to send any of its helicopters to Afghanistan, where they are needed to support Swedish peacekeepers stationed there. Air force officials insist they will not have completed modifying some of their Super Puma helicopters for use in the high altitude and harsh conditions found in Afghanistan, until next year. Sweden also has 18 NH90 helicopters on order, which would be suitable for Afghan operations, but these won't be available until 2020. The Swedish air force attitude towards this is not unique.

Two years ago, the Czech Republic agreed to send five badly needed transport helicopters to serve with NATO troops in Afghanistan. Czech commanders soon found themselves with a pilot mutiny on their hands. The seventy Czech Air Force helicopter pilots were angry because the Mi-171s might not get needed upgrades to their electronics (NATO grade stuff) and protection (lightweight armor to protect from ground fire). Four of the pilots refused to sign up for possible duty abroad. Three of those four pilots had already served in the Balkans, and are mainly concerned, like all the other pilots, with the ability of their relatively new Mi-171 helicopters to handle the severe conditions they knew they would encounter in the deserts and mountains of Afghanistan. The Czechs got their helicopters properly equipped, and the crews trained, but it took nearly two years.

 


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