PICTURE: Afghan army accepts donated Mi-24 attack helicopters

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The Afghan national army air corps has received its first three of six Mil Mi-24 attack helicopters to have been donated from surplus Czech air force stocks.

Transported to Kabul international airport on 1 December, the aircraft will now undergo safety and maintenance inspections before entering Afghan service, says the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Delivery of the secondhand Mi-24s follows a year of preparation work by ISAF Headquarters' directorate for the Afghan national army training and equipment support (DATES) organisation , the Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan (CSTC-A) and the Czech Republic.

mil-mi-24 
 © NATO

ISAF says the newly acquired aircraft will enable the Afghan air corps "to do everything from close air support to medical evacuations". The service already has an active fleet of 12 Mi-24/35s, plus 28 Mi-8/17 transports, according to Flight's HeliCAS database.

The CSTC-A and DATES organisations generate equipment requirements for the Afghan national army, which ISAF passes to representatives from participating NATO nations.

ISAF says up to 25 countries have donated military equipment within the last year, including a US Air Force-funded contract worth $287 million to put 18 ex-Italian air force Alenia G222 tactical transports into Afghan service. Deliveries of the overhauled aircraft are scheduled to take place between September 2009 and mid-2011.