Amidst the escalating Talibani offensive in Afghanistan, a Mi-35 attack helicopter gifted by India to the Afghan forces has been captured by the Talibani terrorists. The Russian-designed Mi-35 Hind attack gunship was seized by the Taliban after it seized control of Kunduz airport in northern Afghanistan from Afghan forces.
Videos and photographs have emerged from the captured airport showing Taliban fighters guarding the gunship. However, the rotor blades and vital components of the engines of the helicopter appear to be missing. A closer examination of the video and the photo shows that the rotor blades were kept on the ground, below the helicopter.
According to Defence analyst Joseph Dempsey, on July 14, the satellite image showed a Mi-35 attack helicopter parked at the Kunduz hangar with its rotor blades intact, but the image that was clicked yesterday, i.e August 10, showed the helicopter without its rotor blades. Therefore, it is being speculated that the Afghan forces removed the parts from the helicopter anticipating defeat to the Taliban forces.
It is also being speculated that besides removing its rotor blades, the Afghan air force personnel also must have incapacitated the helicopter by denuding it of its combat capabilities and engine. However, it cannot be independently verified. The image of Talibani terrorists standing beside the helicopter also shows disassembled rotor blades kept in its vicinity. According to Indian defence expert Manu Pubby, it is possible that Afghan Air Force was using the airframe to scavenge parts to repair other helicopters.
Taliban had reportedly this week took control of the northeastern city of Kunduz, with the Afghan forces in control of the airport and the army base. Kunduz, a strategic town lies at the gateway of northern provinces and Central Asia. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said its forces were close to the airport. Today, the Talibani terrorists overran the airport and snatched its control from the Afghan forces, including the local army headquarters at the Kunduz airport.
According to social media users, one civilian plane was also present at the airport. The headquarters of the Afghan National Army’s 217th Corps is located at the airport, which is now under Taliban control. According to reports, hundreds of Afghan soldiers and police officers surrendered to the Taliban.
India gifts 4 Mi-35s to Afghan Air Force
India in October 2019 had handed over the second pair of Mi-24V helicopters, also known as Mi-35 to war-torn Afghanistan, boosting the capability of the Afghan forces. India had delivered the first two Mi-24Vs in May 2018. The four new helicopter gunships were a replacement for four attack helicopters gifted by India to Afghanistan in 2015 and 2016. However, those were not Indian Air Force helicopters. They were refurbished helicopters purchased from Belarus.
Mi-24V are close-air support helicopters fitted with a YakB four-barreled, 12.7mm, built-in, flexibly mounted machine gun, as well as rocket and grenade launchers.