Afghan military helicopter destroyed in Taliban IED attack

The Taliban published a dramatic video touting the destruction of an Afghan military helicopter just seconds after it landed on a remote outpost in a mountainous area of Afghanistan. The Taliban has infiltrated Afghan military outposts in the past and conducted similar attacks.

The video, which was posted by a Taliban supporter in mid-May, is narrated by Taliban fighters who recorded the attack. It is unclear when or where the attack took place.

The helicopter, which appeared to be a Mi-8 Hip transport, was recorded as it approached the mountaintop base and lands. Just seconds after landing, the helicopter was destroyed in a massive blast that toppled the aircraft and propelled
parts of the rotor into the air. The Taliban fighters recording the video screamed “Allahu Akbar,” or God is greatest, as the aircraft disintegrated. The number of casualties incurred by the Afghan crew and anyone nearby on the ground remains unknown. The Afghan military has yet to comment on the attack. There is little chance anyone onboard survived the blast.

The blast was likely caused by a bomb that was placed underneath the aircraft, as the explosion appeared to originate from under the helicopter. The placement of the IED indicated that Taliban fighters either penetrated the base and planted the bomb, or turned one or more soldiers stationed there to deploy the IED. Additionally, the bomb appeared to have been detonated remotely, as the helicopter did not explode on contact with the ground. The Taliban team that detonated the bomb as well as the team that recorded it (radio chatter was heard in the background, indicating more than one Taliban team was in the area) was close to the base, making it likely that base perimeter security was poor.

The Taliban executed a similar attack in April 2016 at a mountaintop in Kunar and also published a video of the bombing. In that video, Afghan soldiers were seen approaching the helicopter, another MI-8 Hip, as it landed, and were engulfed in the blast. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Taliban destroys Afghan army helicopter in IED attack at military base.]

The loss of helicopters strains the Afghan military, which has increasingly been relying on air assets to resupply remote and besieged bases, as well as to target the Taliban and the Islamic State in air strikes.

The Taliban has issued statements claiming it has shot down 10 helicopters since the beginning of Sept. 2016. Not all of those claims can be confirmed independently. While the exact number of helicopters in the Afghan Air Force is not clear – it is estimated that more than 80 are in service, with more on order – if the Taliban’s claims are accurate, it would have taken out one-eighth of the Afghan military’s serviceable helicopters in the past nine months.

The Afghan military has often denied that the Taliban has shot down its helicopters, instead citing “technical faults” or other issues. This was the case in the April 2016 bombing of the helicopter in Kunar. The Taliban video disproved the Afghan military’s statement.

Images from the Taliban video of the bombing of the Mi-8 helicopter:

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Robert says:

    I am starting to believe that the taliban are creating their own surge . Add some IS misdeeds
    to the mix and you got a real caustic brew going. I have a friend that just returned from there and think he left just in time.

  • irebukeu says:

    So that is one more helicopter the Americans will pay for while the Russians enjoy the profit for the sale and support.
    Incidents like this one and the what I assume to be a tanker bomb in Kabul will be the deciding factor in America sending another 5000 troops. This loss of one helicopter just paid for itself tenfold in corruption and graft from the money that will flow in. For some Afghans, incidents like this equal more money in their pockets and more money from foreign suckers.
    How does what Must have been a tanker bomb get into such a secure area?
    How can American helicopters land at any Afghan base if this is their security?
    Lets come home. Give it to Russia, China and India. Let Iran play ball in this Afghan game.
    Its time to cut and run like chicken dung. Whatever you call it lets just get it done. We are 21 trillion down. Can we just keep borrowing more and more for this war?
    Who wants to pay for the third Manifestation of the Afghan national army, then race to its rescue? Is anyone ever going to talk about sealing the borders of Afghanistan? No sealed border-No security!!

  • Morgan says:

    While in Afghanistan, we were told that Afghan pilots going to forward locations would routinely land in the exact same spot each time, even when landing outside the wire. This is what allows “dushman” to destroy helicopters with IEDs, even pressure-plate ones…..the ANA pilots are predictable.

  • irebukeu says:

    ” From the New York times editorial page. “The Afghans still need help with such basics as managing their motor pool, supplying bullets and gasoline to troops in the field, and administering payrolls. They also need help with intelligence.”
    Get ready for the national HELOC account to take a hit!
    It seems money will be the solution to this problem.
    If Trump expands anything- it will become his war. He will own it!
    Exit this place-stage left. TIME NOW!


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