Sunday, July 19, 2015

Afghan Air Force and Air Support

4th C-130 Arrives. The Afghan Air Force (AAF) received its fourth C-130 from the U.S. Air Force in late June. This completes a five-year plan to replace the troubled C-27A transport aircraft program (20 two-engine transport aircraft) with the larger four-engine C-130. The C-27A program was scrapped because the AAF couldn't maintain the smaller two-engine plane. Evidently the U.S. Air Force feels that the Afghans are capable of maintaining the larger and more complex C-130. Hmmmmm. Read more in "Fourth C-130 touches down in Kabul, expands Afghan Air Force capabilities", DVIDS, June 22, 2015.

AAF MD 530F's Get 2.75 Inch Rockets. The Afghan Air Force will be upgrading its MD 530's with rockets. (Defense, Jul 14, 2015).

Afghan Airspace Management. The Afghans still are unable to manage their own airspace. The U.S. will continue to take care of Afghan airspace traffic for a few more months - through mid-September - giving Afghanistan time to transfer control to an international company with an 18-month to two-year contract.

MC-12W Project Liberty Team. Contractors providing maintenance support for MC-12 ISR aircraft in Afghanistan are highlighted in a DVIDS news release (June 27, 2015).

Special Mission Wing (SMW). Two U.S. Air Force advisors inform us about the Afghan Special Mission Wing in an article posted in Army Aviation Magazine.

TAAC-Air Provides Medic Training. Advisors provided training for Afghan flight medics who will perform duties on C-130 medevacs. (U.S. Air Force, Jul 15, 2015).

Air Advisor Academy Closes. As always happens when an era of counterinsurgency and stability operations comes to a close (it hasn't but the 4-stars think it has) cost cutting measures decimate the advisory and COIN training capacity of the military services. We saw this happen with the U.S. Army at Fort Polk (reduced staff at advisor school - 162nd Brigade) and closing of the Irregular Warfare Center (formerly the COIN Center). Now the Air Force has jumped on board. The U.S. Air Force is shutting the doors of the Air Advisor Academy located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. (Air Force Today, Jul 14, 2015).  In a time of budget constraints something has to give so the Air Force can afford their new F-35 jet. The Joint Strike Fighter is only $200 billion over budget and three years behind schedule. The closing of the Air Advisor Academy is an unfortunate development - just when we appear to get one of the advisor training programs right we cancel out the training capacity. Some critics see the shift from advisor training and COIN missions as a good thing while others see a future where the U.S. cannot avoid "nation building" type conflicts. (National Review, Jul 14, 2015).

U.S. Airstrikes Continue. It appears that the U.S. is stepping up its airstrikes in Afghanistan in support of the ANDSF and the U.S. counterterrorism mission (The New York Times, Jul 15, 2015).

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