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Afghanistan Receives First Batch Of U.S.-Made Black Hawk Helicopters

U.S. soldiers are pictured near a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during a recovery operation in Nangarhar Province in 2013.

Afghanistan has received the first batch of U.S.-made UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the United States.

At a ceremony at Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani formally accepted the first two helicopters, calling it a "historic day."

The United States plans to provide the Afghan air force with 159 Black Hawks in the coming years as part of efforts to significantly transform the fledgling Afghan air force.

"It's a modernization of their program that will allow them to project power throughout Afghanistan," said Lieutenant Colonel Trent Alexander, a U.S. military adviser to the Afghan air force. "While transitioning to the Black Hawk will not be a quick task, it will not be a difficult task."

Afghan security forces have largely struggled to fend off the Taliban since the majority of NATO troops pulled out in 2014, including critical air power.

With reporting by Reuters and dpa