The US is building up the Afghan air force with close air support planes and training

A-29 Super Tucano afghan air forceVideo by Staff Sgt. Robert Kingery/ReleasedThe US Air Force delivered four A-29 Super Tucano aeroplanes to the Afghan Air Force Jan. 15 at Hamid Karzai International Airport here.

As radical non-state actors like the Taliban and ISIS increasingly control parts of Afghanistan, the US Air Force is backing up its ally with four A-29 close air support war planes, the Air Force Times reports.

“It can fly at low speeds and low altitudes, is easy to fly, and provides exceptionally accurate weapons delivery,” Brigadier General Christopher Craige told the Air Force Times.

“It is currently in service with 10 different air forces around the world.”

Along with the planes, the US Air Force deployed eight pilots and 12 maintainers from 81st Fighter Squadron to train the Afghanis in the proper application of close air support.

“This rapidly developed program for Afghanistan is unique for the A-29 development because this is the first time [US Air Force] pilots and maintainers have been trained as instructors to conduct training for Afghan students in the US,” Craige continued.

The US attempt to develop a capable Afghani air force comes after a costly year of operations. A US air strike hit a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, and US forces reported 22 casualties in 2015.

Though the A-29s are dated, propeller-driven platforms, they still provide a whole new dimension of power that the Afghan Security Forces can leverage against insurgents. 

“A brand new air force like this, they’re not going to have some high-tech weaponry,” Lieutenant General Charles Brown, head of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, told the Air Force Times.

Watch the video of the A-29s arriving in Afghanistan below:


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