Portugal expells Russian Kamov mechanics
The Portuguese government has expelled a team of Russian mechanics working on a fleet of Kamov helicopters.
Portugal’s National Civil Protection Authority (ANPC) made the decision and the country’s minister of internal administration, Eduardo Cabrita, described the move as being “in defence of the public interest and national interest” – according to Xinhuanet.
ANPC also shut down the hangar in Ponte de Sor where the maintenance team was working on the three Kamov Helicopters.
The helicopters are owned by the Portuguese government and are operated by charter airline Everjets, which had subcontracted Heliavionic, the company in charge of the maintenance team, to repair and maintain the three helicopters.
ANPC expelled the Heliavionic team after accusing them of flying the helicopters without identification or necessary authorization, the Portuguese newspaper Expresso reported.
This follows the recent wave of Russian Diplomats being expelled from EU and EU-ally states over the past couple of weeks. US and European representatives and allies recently kicked-out more than 100 Russian diplomats in the wake of accusation that Russia was behind a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the UK.
ANPC claimed that the government authority had no connection to the expulsion of Russian diplomats.
The three helicopters were undergoing repairs to be ready to fly firefighting operations this summer. The three Kamovs are part of a fleet of six purchased by the Portuguese government in 2006 but have been in and out of repair hangars since 2012. Back in November, two of the helicopters were grounded for maintenance and, according to The Algarve Resident.
The helicopters cost taxpayers €348 million and, as of January, not one of the six helicopters was operational. This has left Portugal with only three emergency helicopters to fly EMS missions.
Maintenance on the three helicopters being serviced was scheduled to be completed this year.