The first training course for 10 Afghan helicopter maintenance technicians started on 2 April 2012 at the OAO Novosibirsk Aircraft Repair Plant (NARP) which is a part of the Russian Industrial Corporation OBORONPROM.
The NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA) acts as the executing agent for this 90-day course taking place under the framework of the Helicopter Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) project. The HMTF Project started in April 2011 and is an initiative of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) which endeavours to enhance maintenance capacity in the Afghan Air Force (AAF) to operate its helicopter fleet more effectively.
The AAF currently operates 36 Mi-17 and 8 Mi-35 helicopters. Such aircraft are essential for the safe movement of troops and supplies in remote regions, which have poor transportation infrastructure, extreme climatic and environmental conditions, and the added risk of attack from insurgents.
The plant in Novosibirsk, established in 1941, has been selected to serve as the main training centre for Afghan maintenance personnel under the project. It has extensive experience in repairing helicopters, as well as a long and successful track record of training maintenance personnel from numerous countries across the globe. The training centre is officially certified by Russian Federation Aviation Authorities.
Training will initially focus on the maintenance of Mi-17s. A specific curriculum, based on three certified courses, has been developed to meet the AAF’s needs. It covers specializations such as the maintenance of helicopters engines, armaments, avionics, instrumentation, radio equipment and electrical equipment.
It is expected that a total of some 30 Afghan maintenance personnel will receive training under the project over the next two years. Training will consist of both classroom instruction using a computer-based system and practical, on-the-job training in production units and laboratories. It will be conducted with the help of Dari interpreters and the translation into Dari of all related technical documentation is foreseen.
The Trust Fund project
The NRC Helicopter Maintenance Trust Fund project was officially launched in March 2011 at the NRC Ministerial meeting in Berlin with Germany acting as the lead nation and with NAMSA serving as the project’s executing agent. In addition to the training, the project will include the provision of spare parts.
NAMSA, as executing agent of the Trust Fund, is in charge of coordinating efforts of all parties involved in the Project: the NRC donor countries, the Afghan Authorities, OBORONPROM and the NARP.
The donor countries, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Russia, Turkey and United States, have contributed a total of more than 7 million US dollars in cash and 15 million US dollars in kind to the Trust Fund project.