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Spain sends 3 choppers to protect troops in Afghanistan

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

Madrid, Mar 27 (EFE).- The three Tigre combat helicopters that will help protect Spanish troops from the threat of terrorist attacks during their withdrawal from Afghanistan left Wednesday from Torrejon de Ardoz airbase aboard an Antonov transport aircraft, the Defense Ministry said.

The choppers, which serve in a support and protection role, will be added on Thursday to Spain's 1st Attack Helicopter Battalion, which has been stationed in Herat since March 19.

The Tigres will be used for reconnaissance and security, as well as escorting air formations and convoys and providing support for ground troops if they become involved in insurgent attacks or other incidents.

The reason the helicopters are being sent to the unit during the withdrawal phase for Spanish forces is to protect the troops during such a "complex" operation, which requires moving a large number of vehicles along badly-maintained roads, Gen. Francisco Javier Sancho said.

Once in Afghanistan, they will be integrated into the army's ASPUHEL helicopter unit, which currently consists of three Cougar choppers and CH-47 Chinooks.

Since these are attack helicopters, in Herat a secure area has been established where the aircraft can be loaded with ammunition and where proper local operational procedures are already in place.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/agencia-efe/130327/spain-sends-3-choppers-protect-troops-afghanistan