Oct. 11 (UPI) -- The first two Black Hawk helicopters from the United States have joined the fleet of the Afghan Air Force, with expectations the UH-60A will replace the aging fleet of M-17 helicopters currently in use there.
The UH-60A Black Hawks were welcomed earlier this month at an airfield in Kandahar by President Ashraf Ghani and other Afghan and U.S. officials, the U.S. Army announced on Tuesday.
Among the officials present at the delivery were Afghan Air Force Commader Gen. Mohammad Shoaib and U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Phillip Stewart, commander of the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing and Train, Advise, Assist Command.
"We share the same value of defending freedom, of living without fear," Ghani said in in remarks at a ceremony to accept the aircraft. "Terrorists of this world should know... they will not thrive here. We will eliminate them."
Added Gen. Stewart: "Airpower has proven to be a force multiplier in the war in Afghanistan. The arrival of these first UH-60 Black Hawk heralds in a new era. The international community... remains committed to our Afghan partners to bring about the end of the Taliban."
Afghanistan plans to acquire more than 100 UH-60 Black Hawks in the coming years to replace their Soviet-era M-17 helicopter fleet.
UF-60 BlackHawks are manufactured by Sikorsky, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin.