American military instructors have started to teach Georgian pilots to fly UH-1 Huey helicopters. Sources deny any connection of this activity with the possible antiterrorist operation in Pankisi Gorge.
UH-1 helicopters are flying over Alekseyevka military airfield in the suburbs of the Georgian capital, as American specialists are teaching their Georgian colleagues basic flying skills.
John Powell: "We've already made several practice flights over the airfield and further in the direction of Eastern Georgia."
In the east of Georgia lies the Pankisi Gorge, where the republic's special services are planning to carry out a counterterrorist operation. The helicopters carry no armament and are designed for personnel carrying. Local pilots and ground technicians will have a three-month training course, after which they will have to pass a qualification exam. The appearance of American combat helicopters in the Georgian sky has been considered by many as the beginning of a military operation in Pankissia, but this is only military practice yet.
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