NATO nations sign agreement to revamp Soviet-era helicopters

10:57, October 24, 2009      

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Nine NATO allies signed an agreement Friday to revamp Soviet-era helicopters held by former Warsaw Pact nations to fill a critical gap in airlift for operations such as Afghanistan.

Under the agreement the Czech Republic, Albania, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia will receive backing from other NATO nations to upgrade their so-called HIP helicopters so they can be used in missions for the Atlantic alliance.

A lack of transport helicopters has long hampered operations by both NATO and the European Union with nations unable to or unwilling to cover the costs of preparing the aircraft and their crews for long-distance missions.

Britain, Turkey, Spain and Norway joined the Eastern European nations in the new NATO program to help with training and financial support for upgrading their several dozen Soviet-made helicopters.

The agreement is the latest in a series of initiatives designed to share resources of the 28 NATO allies, including a new ground surveillance system and the leasing of several large transport planes.

Source: Xinhua
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