As if to spoil the party, an apparently Russian built helicopter has suffered some kind of failure on takeoff and crashed. In Afghanistan.
The result, as the Beeb have reported, is that sixteen on board are feared dead.
No doubt there will be the usual comments about anything Russian being routinely ropey – until a helicopter built elsewhere becomes involved in a crash. And such events are not unheard of: the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has recently published a “special bulletin” regarding the loss of Super Puma G-REDL earlier this year, which crashed into the North Sea following a catastrophic failure in its main rotor gearbox. Here, too, sixteen lives were lost.
Yes, helicopters enable people to be moved around a country without having to use road transport. But they do not bring a guarantee of safe passage. Moreover, there has been one loss recently attributed to small arms fire: if the Taliban were to gain access to any serious kind of surface to air missile capability, then the whole argument at present raging over whether our troops are being needlessly put in harm’s way will kick off once more.
However, there would then be no Plan B.