With the dust barely settled from the controversial elections in East Ukraine, the U.S. Department of Defense and Russia were able to put their differences aside as the last batch of U.S.-purchased Mi-17 transport helicopters were delivered to the Afghan military by the Russian-state arms exporter Rosoboronexport. The deal, which had been criticized by lawmakers when it was signed in 2011 because of Russian support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, comes with full support from the Russian Federal Service of Military Technical Cooperation.
Since the deal was signed, relations between Russia and the U.S. have been frosty, especially with the recent annexation of Crimea from the Ukraine, and the recent Russia-supported elections declaring independence for the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
In July 2013, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S., which was buying the aircraft on behalf of Afghanistan, had paid way over the normal asking price for the Mi-17. It reported that in 2010 Russia was selling the helicopter for between $13 million and $14 million, whereas the U.S. was paying upwards of $18 million per unit.
The Defense Department found that the aircraft performed particularly well in the high-altitude terrain of Afghanistan.
In September, the U.S. military received 20 Brazilian-built A-29 Super Tucano light attack planes for use by the Afghan military. The aircraft will be based at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, where Afghan pilots and engineers will be trained to use them.
The crew, pilots and aircraft will return to Afghanistan once the training is over, where they will replace Afghanistan's Mi-35 light attack helicopter, which will reach the end of service in 2016.