German H145Ms sent to support Afghanistan withdrawal efforts

Germany has deployed two Special Forces H145M helicopters to Kabul, Afghanistan, to assist with the evacuation process. The helicopters were loaded onto a German Air Force Airbus A400M and then departed from Wunstorf Air Base, Germany, for Kabul on August 20.

Due to the continuing hazardous nature of travelling by road, they will be used to fly people who are currently in safe locations out to Kabul Airport so that they can board evacuation flights.

German H145M loading onto A400M
German Air Force H145M 76+13 being loaded onto an A400M at Wunstorf on August 20 prior to departure for Kabul. Bundeswehr

The helicopters, serials 76+02 and 76+13, are two of the 15 operated by the German Air Force’s Hubschraubergeschwader 64 (HSG64 – Helicopter Wing 64)/644 Staffel (Squadron) at Laupheim. As soon as they had arrived in Kabul, work got underway to quickly re-assemble them (basically, re-attaching the main rotors) so that they could get to work as soon as possible.

The H145Ms will work in conjunction the German Army’s Kommando Spezialkrafte (Special Forces Command), which has had some personnel deployed to Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport since August 16. They will join British and French military personnel, who have already been working on the ground to rescue people from outside the airport perimeter and bring them to safety prior to evacuation by air.

In addition to standard H145M equipment, Germany's examples also have provision for fast-roping equipment and are fitted with missile approach warning sensors and decoy flare dispensers on the skids. They are also capable of being fitted with G6 7.62mm Minigun Gatling-type machine guns mounted on either side in the main cabin doors for self-protection. During loading at Wunstorf, the guns were not immediately apparent on the two helicopters destined for Kabul, although the gun mount was visible on at least one of them, so it seems likely they will be installed after arrival in Kabul.

Deployment of the H145Ms has been at the request of the US Government, as their smaller size, compared to the US helicopters currently operating around Kabul, means they can get into tighter spaces in the urban environment of Kabul city. The German Government said they will be to evacuate not only German nationals, but any other people who are at risk in the city.