October 17, 2006:
Britain needs more helicopters for its troops in Afghanistan, and wants them in a hurry. So new choppers are out of the question, as that would take over a year. The only other options are to lease, or buy used helicopters. A British security firm, Security Support Solutions, has offered to provide seven Russian helicopters (four Mi-17s and three Mi-26s), along with pilots and maintenance crews, on a short term rental agreement. Security Support Solutions is one of the many private security companies that have appeared, since the end of the Cold War, to serve the NGO and corporate need for security in violent parts of the world. Like most other such firms, Security Support Solutions is staffed, and run, by former military personnel. The helicopters they are offering are the same type they provide for NGOs overseas. The British might just go with this option. The only other alternative is the second hand market. Denmark, for example, is trying to unload six EH101. The Danes bought 14 of these a few years ago, for $24 million each. The Danes don't use these choppers that much, and want to avoid the high cost of maintaining them. The EH101 is a popular military helicopter in Europe, and won the competition to be the new "Marine One" chopper that carries the president of the United States.