No less than 40 or even 45 thousand terrorists are fighting the Northern Alliance and anti-terror coalition rangers in the part of Kunduz close to the Afghan-Tajik frontier and in Qandahar, the country's southwest, says Colonel-General Valeri Manilov, recent First Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces. Several hundred Chechen terrorists are fighting on the Taliban side in Kunduz, Qandahar and elsewhere in Afghanistan, as far as he knows. General Manilov estimates foreign mercenary forces at more than 20,000, including numerous militants of Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaida, he said to RIA Novosti. Our interviewee cannot make precise evaluation of the total terrorist force in Afghanistan. In fact, no one has reliable statistics, he said. Afghan warfare is extremely hard. The Taliban know the locality off-pat, with its forbidding terrain, and use thousands of winding paths--some for caravans, others to be negotiated only on foot. That makes them evasive to the utmost, and capable of surprise attacks. There is no hope for foreign mercenaries ever to surrender, and they have to be destroyed down to the last man, said General Manilov.
First and foremost, it goes about the replacement of the French-Russian SaM146 engine with the Russian PD-8 aircraft engine