Australia To Help Afghans With Blackhawks
Australia is broadening its ongoing military support to Afghanistan to help develop the country's UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter capability.
Defence Minister Marise Payne announced the new support program at the NATO Leaders' Summit in Brussels on Thursday.
From about 300 Australian Defence Force personnel already serving in Afghanistan, Ms Payne said 20 will now focus their expertise on supporting the introduction of Blackhawks to the Afghan military.
Australia is one of only a few nations in the international coalition currently flying Blackhawks.
"The Blackhawks are a critical battlefield enabler that will provide the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces with increased air mobility and response capabilities for ground forces," Payne said.
She said Australia would continue to fund Afghanistan's current fleet of Mi-17 helicopters as it transitions to the Blackhawk.
Australia remains the second largest contributor to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund, and has contributed $US520 million ($A703 million) since 2010.
"Australia remains committed to working with NATO and its partners to support the government of Afghanistan to provide security and stability for its people and to prevent the spread of terrorism," Payne said.