Russia is willing to provide transport helicopters to assist the NATO-led military contingent fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan, a defense industry official said on Thursday.
Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, deputy head of Russia's Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation, said Russian An-124 Condor cargo planes had transported over 88,000 metric tons of cargo for NATO troops in Afghanistan under the successful Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS) project.
"The aircraft leasing mechanism successfully used in the SALIS project could be applied to heavy-lift transport helicopters for NATO forces carrying out missions in remote areas [of Afghanistan]," Dzirkaln said at a roundtable meeting on cooperation between Russia and NATO.
"Russian Mi-26T Halo helicopters of this class have already demonstrated their unique capabilities and performed well in Afghanistan," the official added.
In December 2009, a Russian Mi-26T helicopter successfully returned a NATO Cougar helicopter to its airbase in Kandahar after the craft had come under attack. The Mi-26T has been serving NATO troops in Afghanistan for more than three years.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has about 120,000 troops in Afghanistan. A total of 46 countries are involved in security efforts in the war-ravaged country.
ZHUKOVSKY, July 1 (RIA Novosti)