Taliban claim: Helicopter in Afghanistan shot down

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Mi-26 in Aeroflot markings.

Aljazeera English is reporting a Taliban claim to have shot down the world's largest helicopter.

The Russian helicopter is said to have been in use by NATO to supply Dutch troops deployed in Southern Afghanistan.

NATO is reported as saying that the aircraft is missing; probably downed by bad weather. It is said to have crashed Saturday while en route from Kandahar to Uruzgan. No NATO personnel were on board, said NATO spokesman.

The helicopter, said to be Russia's largest cargo carrier, was named as Mi-25. The number of personnel and the nature of its cargo have not been disclosed. It is reported as being owned by DynCorp International which provides "specialised mission-critical outsourced technical services to civilian and military government agencies". DynCorp has been engaged to train police forces and has also been active in anti-drug trading in Central America and elsewhere.

Note: the world's heaviest and most powerful helicopter in production is the Russian eight-bladed Mil Mi-26.