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Russia may lease helicopters to NATO

MOSCOW, July 1 (UPI) -- Russia is willing to provide helicopters to carry NATO soldiers in Afghanistan, a defense industry representative said Thursday.

Vyacheslav Dzirkaln, deputy head of Russia's Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation, said the same lease arrangement already used for AN-24 Condor cargo planes could be used for helicopters, the Novosti news agency reported. The Russian planes have carried 88,000 tons of supplies for NATO forces.

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Dzirkaln said the Mi-26T Halo helicopter has already shown its fitness for work in Afghanistan. An Mi-26T was used to transport a Cougar helicopter to Kandahar after it had been damaged in an attack.

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