Afghanistan and Iraqi forces are to receive Russian-built Mi-17 helicopters in a move to independently defend and guard against threats, and protect their nation’s sovereignty.

The US Army will acquire and sustain 21 new Mi-17s for Afghanistan and 22 aircraft have already been bought for Iraq, of which 14 have been delivered.

Colonel Norbert Vergez said the acquisition is to provide Afghanistan with a platform that is familiar and easy to operate.

“They wanted something that was immediately available for them to assimilate into their armed forces,” he added.

The Mi-17 is a high-altitude helicopter capable of transporting troops and supply that is suitable for operations, especially in the Afghan terrain.