Pathfinders, Airmen help recover crashed Afghan Air Force Mi-17

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Justin Weaver
  • 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Five members of the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing responded to the crash site of an Afghan Air Force Mi-17 in Nuristan Province May 11.

Nine people were injured when an AAF helicopter crashed during a routine mission in Central Nuristan. The injured were transported to Kabul for further evaluation and experts say none of the injuries are life threatening. Safety experts are now examining the wreckage to determine the cause of the crash.

"We were relieved to hear that there were no fatalities in the crash," said Lt. Col. John Conmy, 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron commander. "Our next step was to figure out how to recover the aircraft."

With quick coordination, the 438th AEW personnel worked with Army Pathfinders of Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, to send in personnel the following day to help recover the aircraft. U.S. Army Pathfinders are specialists in navigating their way through foreign terrain and establishing safe landing zones for Airborne and Air Assault Soldiers or Army aircraft. In this case, the Army Pathfinders were used to provide security and dismantle as much of the Afghan Mi-17 as possible before having it sling loaded by CH-47 Chinook out of the province. A portion of the helicopter could not be sling loaded and was destroyed at the location.

The service ceiling of the Mi-17 is more than 16,000 feet and can transport 24 passengers and 8,800 lbs. of cargo. The Mi-17 comes costs approximately $15 million, which is one-half to one-third as expensive as Western aircraft with similar capabilities.

"The AAF has convened a safety investigation board to determine the cause of the crash," said Maj. Jay Troxell, 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Safety Officer. "This Board is made up of various specialties of the AAF. The U.S. is only advising the board. The board hopes to determine the cause of the mishap in order to prevent future mishaps from occurring and expects to have a full report in approximately 30 days."

The 438th AEW is responsible for providing trained and ready AAF Airmen to accomplish critical tasks from the air in support of the Afghan National Army and when directed by the Ministry of Defense and General Staff, to support by air the civil authorities of Afghanistan at all levels.