US Senator Criticizes Pentagon Plans to Cut Black Hawks for Afghan Air Force
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., questioned what he saw as an “abrupt change in aviation procurement and unclear strategic justification” in a letter sent to the Pentagon and shared with Stars and Stripes.
The Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., which makes Black Hawks, is headquartered in Connecticut.
The number of Black Hawks provided to the air force will be capped at 53 instead of the 159 pledged in 2016, to replace the country’s aging Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters, said a Defense Department report to Congress.
“Reductions were made on the basis of a review of future operational requirements,” said the Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan report released last week.
The report also said the U.S. plans to send an unknown number of Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters to an elite Afghan air unit to replace its aging Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters. Sanctions bar the U.S. from buying Russian aircraft or spares to keep them flying, though some Afghan pilots have said they favor them.