Some digging around has established a couple of things about the above helicopter and the firm that runs its.
First the company Pecotox has a number of issues concerning it’s shady history particularly its operations history in the Congo and where it got some of it’s fleet. Nice to see that Nato can pick on a suitable company to hire assets from. Obviously they were the ones that came in cheapest, especially since they were/are banned from EU airspace.
The company name Artic Group Ltd on the side of the helicopter also seems to have dodgy connections to do with arms brokering and perhaps other types of activity’s. The website for TransArms, the Research center for the Logistics of Arms Transfers has this to say on it’s mission page about an aircraft run by Artic Group Ltd:
This Ilyushin 76-T, registration number ER-IBV (formerly RA-76521), manufacturing number 3423699, belonging to Artic Group Ltd and operated by Jet Line International and Aerocom, was variously used between 2003 and 2005 by the U.K. Ministry of Defense and the U.S. Department of Defense for operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq. Jet Line International’s aircraft have been frequent visitors of airports in Africa Great Lakes region, as well as Ostend, Maastricht, Prague-Ruzyne, Bratislava, and Tiraspol (in the separatist Moldovan region of Transnistria
Now that’s a strange list of places that this aircraft went to. I wonder what it was doing?
Second the role of the helicopter in Afghanistan appears to be rather much of a mystery. From my previous entry we learnt that:
Tokorenko (the owner of the helicopter) said. According to cited source, the helicopter was not hit by a missile as said earlier, but by a grenade launcher. “The helicopter transported food and water that the crew had to throw to the population of Sangin city, Helmand province. The helicopter was hit when the crew was going to detach the food and water in order to send it to the ground. The grenade hit the rotor and as a result the aircraft lost the power and crushed”, added the cited source.
Now if we look at the photograph above we see ER-MCV at Lashkar Gar HLS. And it looks like it has been taking on supplies from British Forces. I found one comment on one of the forums that indicated that it was being used to supply the FOB’s but no other confirmation. What is completely unlikely is that Nato or the company would allow the helicopter to deliver Food and Water to civilians in the manner described using this helicopter. It is completely illogical and just downright dangerous.This type of aircraft is not suited for this type of mission.
What is more likely is that the aircraft was coming into Sangin and was targeted by the Taliban. It being a civilian aircraft it would have minimal protection from even small arms fire and certainly from what is described as a grenade launcher. There are reports that the Taliban claimed to have shot down a Chinook in the area and if they had done this it would have been a huge propaganda victory as well as a setback for the allied forces.
I am still worried that with the lack of helicopters available inside Afghanistan that this helicopter could have been used to transport Troops and wonder if this is why the government has apparently tried to stop discussion on this aircraft in the papers. It is a death trap for any combat situation and could have resulted in huge loss of life.
We may hear of more developments over the next few days.