Afghan Air Force Growth Plans
Posted by Robert Wall at 8/12/2010 6:09 AM CDT
U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Michael Boera, who leads the international effort to rebuild the Afghan National Army Air Force, has provided an update on how things are going. Here are some highlights:
-- There are now six C-27s in Afghanistan. The goal is to get to a fleet of around 20 to replace An-26s and An-32s. The Antonovs are due to be retired before 2013.
-- fixed-wing close air support is due to be fielded around 2013-2014 to replace the Mi-35 Hinds. Those are already being partly replaced by giving Mi-17s a ground attack capability.
-- the Mi-17 fleet is to grow to 56 rotorcraft. Note that Sikorsky is protesting the latest plan for a purchase of Mi-17s for the Afghans. Boera does not address the issue, but this comment is interesting: The Mi-17 "is a really good aircraft and it's really good for the Afghans right now. Eventually, a Western-type medium-lift helicopter will be appropriate."
-- intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities will only start to come into focus toward mid-decade. "They have a long ways to go before they are ready to do ISR-type of ops," Boera notes.
-- staffing: 3,895 service members of which 34% officers, 28% NCOs, 36% enlisted, 2% civilian.