UK Merlin choppers leaving Afghanistan

Britain is pulling out its fleet of Merlin choppers from Afghanistan in another sign of Londonâ„¢s phased withdrawal of troops from the Asian country.

The fleet of six carrier helicopters is being dismantled so that they can be flown back to Britain ahead of the schedule.

The Merlins will be sent back as part of a shipment of 3,500 armored vehicles and 12,000 containers of military equipment that the British Defense Ministry estimates will cost some £300 million to be flown back to the country.

“In 2010, we required more than 2,300 helicopter hours a month and now that number has dropped by around 40 per cent,” Group Captain Frazer Nicholson, Commander of the Joint Aviation Group, based in the Afghan province of Helmand, said.

“We are now able to redeploy the Merlin from theatre as we simply do not need the helicopter capacity we currently have,” he added.

Britain plans to cut back its troops in Afghanistan to 5,200 by the end of 2013, from a peak of 9,500 last year, as part of a phased withdrawal that will be complete by the end of 2014.

AMR/HE

This article originally appeared on: Press TV