Allies Absent in Afghanistan – Hummingbird Helicopters Hired
Afghanistan is shaping up as a test of the NATO alliance – and thus far, the report is mixed. While a number of allied countries have committed troops, very few of the NATO countries’ available helicopters have been committed, despite promises made and commanders’ requests from the field. A June 2007 meeting in Brussels featured bromides and minor adjustments, but few serious commitments. Britain, the Netherlands, and the USA still contribute most of the helicopter support in theater, with some assistance from non-NATO partner Australia.
The sizeable helicopter fleets belonging to NATO members like France, Germany, Italy, and Spain have been notable mostly by their general absence during the European failure to meet NATO commitments. In response, the USA has been forced to extend the deployment of 20 CH-47 helicopters by 6 months, in order to try and make up the shortfall.
Another way to stanch the wound is to charter private helicopter support that can take care of more routine missions in theater, freeing the military helicopters in theater for other tasks. Which may explain why Hummingbird Aviation, LLC in Hammond, LA, won an indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) type contract for $112.3 million “to perform services necessary to perform rotary wing transportation services to transport Class I – X supplies, U.S. Mail and passengers. Rotary wing transportation services are to be performed in Afghanistan at military airfields.” Services will be performed from Oct 1/07 – Sept 30/09 (the Pentagon’s FY08-FY09 period). This contract was competitively procured, with 2 offers received by the USTRANSCOM Directorate of Acquisitions at Scott Air Force Base, IL (HTC711-07-D-0033).
Other contractors are also involved. Read “‘Jingle Air’ Supplies Isolated Soldiers,” using its fleet of Mi-8 helicopters.