Crash Opens Window Into Afghan Contract Helicopters
Shortfalls in allied helicopter contributions to Afghanistan have been an issue for several years now. The USA ended up having to extend some of its Chinook fleet’s time in theater to make up the shortfall, but the longer term response to NATO’s under-performance has involved another option: contracted helicopter services from private firms like Hummingbird, Blackwater affiliate Presidential Airways, CHL, Jingle Air, et. al.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence was forced to drop a proposal to contract out battlefield helicopter support, for a number of obvious reasons. What the USAF’s recent “Teamwork shown as Airmen respond to helicopter crash” release demonstrates, however, is that other divisions of responsibility below full combat missions are seeing the lines blur. Defence-Aerospace’s Giovanni de Briganti was sharp enough to pick up on the key paragraphs:
“1/5/2009 – SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) — Six Airmen of the 379th Civil Engineer Squadron here used teamwork to recover a helicopter that crashed Dec. 15 at a forward operating base in Afghanistan… Medics arrived and treated one of the aircrew members for a minor hand laceration. The responders then began to remove the cargo and fuel from the downed aircraft. We worked with contractors and the Army’s movement control team to remove 4,000 pounds of ammo [emphasis DID’s] and transfer the fuel from the helicopter,” the firefighter said. The helicopter was eventually picked up by a crane, loaded on to a flatbed truck and removed from the scene.”