“In general it takes almost two Black Hawks to carry the load of a single Mi-17,” Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine
Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine said in a new report that the UH-60 that Afghanistan imported to replace the Mi-17 is not as capable as the Russian rotocraft.
As reported by Bloomberg, Fine wrote in his latest quarterly assessment of U.S. expenditures in Afghanistan, posted in May (the same month the first Black Hawk was flown in an Afghanistan operation by the nascent air force) that the transition to Black Hawks “presents several challenges that have yet to be fully addressed.”
Noteworthy Fine said that the Black Hawk lacked the lift capability of the Mi-17 and “in general it takes almost two Black Hawks to carry the load of a single Mi-17.”
The American-made helicopter also lack the capacity to “accommodate some of the larger cargo items the Mi-17 can carry” and that “unlike the Mi-17, Black Hawks cannot fly at high elevations and, as such, cannot operate in remote regions of Afghanistan where Mi-17s operate.”
However Army Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner, a Pentagon spokesman, defended the program to buy Black Hawks, saying that “in many cases the UH-60 is as, or more, capable than the Mi-17” and that “provides more firepower than the Mi-17 variant, which is limited to rockets only and is less maneuverable.”
He added that the UH-60’s maintenance costs are “significantly lower” than the Mi-17. Eventually the changeover will “enable a shift from a Russian supply chain to a well-established and reliable U.S. supply chain,” Faulkner concluded.
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Not as capable, but less expensive to operate. That’s a trade that is commonly made.