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The Afghan air force took another step toward bolstering its close air support capabilities with the test of GSh-23 guns on the Mi-35 attack helicopter, according to a release from coalition air advisors. Members of the AAF's 377th Rotary Wing Squadron at Kabul fired 23 mm rounds from newly mounted twin-barreled GSh-23s on the Mi-35 for the first time on May 15 during a live-fire exercise, states a May 31 release from the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing. "This weapons system provides a vital air-to-ground capability to destroy a target on the ground from the air," said Lt. Col. Brandon Deacon, 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron commander. This exercise, involving two Mi-35s, marked the first time that the Afghans have had the GSh-23 as well as the Yak-B 12.7 mm machine gun and the S-5 57 mm rocket pod mounted on the Mi-35, states the release. Once Afghan pilots complete certifications, they will be able to use the GSh-23 in combat to support Afghan ground troops. (Kabul report by Capt. Anastasia Wasem)