(This was originally posted in The Print by Snehesh Alex Philip)
One of the four attack helicopters supplied by India to Afghanistan in 2019 has been seized by the Taliban after they took over the airport in Kunduz, the northern provincial capital of the country. In pictures and videos circulating on social media, Taliban cadres can be seen standing next to a Mi-24V attack helicopter with the serial number 123.
This was among the four helicopters that were given to the Afghanistan Air Force in 2019 as a replacement for the four attack helicopters previously gifted in 2015. The helicopters were given under a deal between Afghanistan and Belarus, but financed by India.
Besides financing, India had also provided training to the aircrews but was not involved in any maintenance duties. A video of the chopper’s capture was first released by Joseph Dempsey, a research associate for defence and military analysis at the UK-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.
In a tweet Wednesday, Dempsey wrote: “Video reportingly shows #Taliban captured Kunduz airport with #Afghanistan Air Force Mi-35 Hind attack helicopter.” Dempsey also put out satellite images and said that the location of the video was the Kunduz airport.
Helicopter won’t be of use to Taliban
While Indian officials did not respond to the queries noting that information on the matter is still coming in, defence sources said that the chopper won’t be of use to the Taliban as one cannot fly it without trained pilots. Sources also explained that the aircraft was not in flying condition as the engines were not overhauled.
Meanwhile, according to media reports from Afghanistan, the Kunduz airport fell to the Taliban “when most government forces there surrendered, while others retreated to the Aliabad district of Kunduz”. The Taliban has also tweeted videos of the surrender.