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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Rotorcraft Report: NATO May Charter Heavy Lift For Afghanistan Re-Supply Work

MILITARY/UTILITY

NATO reportedly is considering renting helicopters to re-supply front-line units and remote bases in southern Afghanistan.

Defense ministers from the alliance meeting in the Netherlands in late October were to review a proposal to charter up to 20 large helicopters flown by civilian contractors to move supplies.

Commanders in Afghanistan have had trouble getting alliance nations to approve sending their helicopters into areas with significant numbers of Taliban troops. That has forced them to rely on ground convoys to move troops and supplies, and to suffer the attacks and casualties to which such movements are more susceptible. Germany, France, Turkey, Spain, and Greece reportedly all have turned down recent NATO requests to deploy large transport helicopters to southern Afghanistan.

NATO’s Military Committee has "passed to political authorities, advice for their consideration to outsource some of NATO’s air transport requirements to meet airlift shortfalls in Afghanistan," according to the committee.

The shortage of helicopters has been among NATO’s most pressing priorities in Afghanistan. Chartering civilian ones for re-supply missions would free U.S., British, and Dutch helicopters in theater to concentrate on combat operations.

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