The Afghan Taliban claimed it shot down an Afghan military helicopter in Kunduz yesterday as it was returning from an operation in the neighboring province of Takhar. Afghan officials later claimed that the helicopter made an “emergency landing” after encountering mechanical problems. In the past, Afghan officials have been less than forthcoming about the loss of aircraft as a result of enemy fire.
The Taliban reported yesterday on Voice of Jihad, its official propaganda outlet, that “Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate shot down an enemy attack helicopter Thursday in Dashti Archi district of Kunduz as two of the enemy helicopter gunships were en route back to Kunduz from Takhar.” The Taliban also claimed it “seized” two DShK machine guns from the wreckage.
Today, the Afghan Ministry of Defense confirmed that an American-made MD-530 light attack helicopter “made [an] emergency landing due to technical issues and the crew of the helicopter were rescued by the other helicopter,” according to Khaama Press. The helicopter landed in Dasht-i-Archi district.
The Khaama Press report had one other interesting detail: “[Ministry of Defense Spokesman] Waziri further added that the helicopter was destroyed in the area as it was not repairable.”
This is a strong indication that Dasht-i-Archi district is outside of the government’s control, as the Afghan military wouldn’t destroy the helicopter if it was able to recover it. [Note, FDD’s Long War Journal assesses that the district is at least contested by the Taliban. See map.]
While it is difficult to assess if the Taliban or the Afghan Ministry of Defense’s version of the story is correct, the Taliban have proven credible in reports such as these in the past. The Afghan military, on the other hand, has been less than forthcoming about attacks on its aviation assets and has even attempted to cover up the loss of its helicopters.
In one instance, in March 2016, Afghan officials claimed a helicopter in Kunar province made a hard landing, while the Taliban claimed it destroyed it as it landed at a remote base. The Taliban later issued video footage of the helicopter exploding in a massive IED attack as it landed. [See Taliban destroys Afghan army helicopter in IED attack at military base.]