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First American flies Mi-35 HIND in combat

Maj. Caleb Nimmo poses next to a Russian-made Mi-35 attack helicopter May 15, 2010, at the Afghan National Army Air Corps base in Kabul, Afghanistan.  Major Nimmo is with the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Combined Air Power Transition Force.  (U.S. Navy photo/Petty Officer 1st Class Elizabeth Burke)

Maj. Caleb Nimmo poses next to a Russian-made Mi-35 attack helicopter May 15, 2010, at the Afghan National Army Air Corps base in Kabul, Afghanistan. Major Nimmo is with the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Combined Air Power Transition Force. (U.S. Navy photo/Petty Officer 1st Class Elizabeth Burke)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- An Air Force major from the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Combined Air Power Transition Force here is the first American Mi-35 HIND attack helicopter pilot to fly in combat.

Maj. Caleb Nimmo, an Afghan National Army Air Corps pilot adviser, began flying in 2000. In the last ten years, he has flown UH-1 Hueys for the Air Force and the Marine Corps, T-6 Texans as an instructor pilot for the Undergraduate Pilot Training at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., and the MV-22 Osprey.

The Mi-24 is the Russian HIND attack helicopter. The Mi-35 is the export version of the Russian Mi-24 HIND attack helicopters.

The Air Force uses the Mi-35 as the aggressor at the Red Flag weapons school at Nellis, AFB, Nev.

"It has been absolutely an honor and a surreal experience," Major Nimmo said, " to work with the Afghans, the Czech Republic teams and now the Hungarians. ...The Afghans are very skilled pilots and they teach me things all the time. They teach me a lot about the tactics that helped when they were working with and against the Russians and the Mujahedin and the Taliban."

Two of the areas coalition mentors are working on with the ANAAC are instrument training and operational processes.

"We are trying to coordinate with the Afghans, and (to build) an Afghan-led and an Afghan-run system to plan the way ahead for the Mi-35," Major Nimmo said. "We are not going to tell them there is only one way to do it, because this is Afghanistan and they need to establish their way of doing it, which will be sustainable far into the future."

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