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unhappycamper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-30-10 05:41 AM
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Reference to missile-downed helicopter in leaked Afghanistan reports highlights a threat
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Reference to missile-downed helicopter in leaked Afghanistan reports highlights a threat
By Laura King and Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times
July 28, 2010 | 6:37 p.m.

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Washington Wherever there are Western troops in Afghanistan, the clatter-thump of helicopter rotors serves as the soundtrack. Choppers are the workhorses of this war, with hundreds of them moving soldiers and supplies daily across a rugged landscape.

Because of the NATO force's heavy reliance on them, one of the most eye-catching revelations in a trove of classified documents posted on the Internet this week was that insurgents apparently used a portable heat-seeking surface-to-air missile to shoot down a twin-rotor CH-47 Chinook in Helmand province in May 2007, killing seven Western service members.

If the Taliban and other insurgent groups possessed large numbers of these weapons, it could dramatically alter the dynamics of a war effort that already is struggling. Shoulder-launched missiles downed scores of Soviet helicopters in the 1980s, helping ragtag Afghan rebels prevail against a vastly superior force.

Most experts believe that the antiaircraft threat currently posed by the insurgents is relatively limited, and that they don't have significant stocks of surface-to-air missiles, at least for now.

The shooting down of choppers remains a relative rarity in the Afghan conflict, and heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades are almost always found to have been used.
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