News / Asia

    Afghan Air Force Not Ready Until 2020, Top US General Says

    FILE - U.S. Air Force Major Micah West helps to train Afghan pilots in the southern province of Kandahar in August 2010.
    FILE - U.S. Air Force Major Micah West helps to train Afghan pilots in the southern province of Kandahar in August 2010.

    The Afghan air force will not reach necessary strength levels until 2020, according to a top U.S. general.

    General John Campbell, who ended his command of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan last week, told reporters Friday that some aircraft procured for the force would not arrive in Afghanistan until 2018.

    The force would then need an additional two to three years to train the pilots needed for the new aircraft, he explained.

    "2020 is probably a good guess," Campbell said. 

    Afghan aviation capabilities saw significant progress in the 18 months in which the general led international forces there, although, he said, the United States "started way too late" in developing the nation's air force.

    FILE - An Afghan soldier stands guard near a helicopter donated by the U.S. in Shindand district of Herat province, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 10, 2011.
    FILE - An Afghan soldier stands guard near a helicopter donated by the U.S. in Shindand district of Herat province, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Dec. 10, 2011.

    For example, in 2014, the Afghan air force conducted 85 aerial support missions; in 2015, that number increased to 4,485.

    Future improvements

    The force will double the number of A-29 turboprop attack aircraft in the next couple of weeks, according to Campbell. It will also add eight to 10 MD-530 armed helicopters — which the general referred to as "little birds" — to the Afghan air arsenal this fighting season.

    "Those have made a difference in Nangahar, in Helmand," he said.

    However, the United States and NATO must still build, train and advise Afghan attack controllers needed to direct the action of their combat aircraft during offensive operations.

    These controllers are required to positively identify targets and help prevent civilian casualties.


    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Korea, Japan and Egypt.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: meanbill from: USA
    March 12, 2016 8:46 AM
    Crazy isn't it? .. In 2009, Obama knew he was going to abandon the 3rd world Afghan government to fight the Taliban by themselves, [but yet], Obama provided no airpower whatsoever to the Afghan 3rd world army to defend themselves against the Taliban, [and now], Obama will provide the 3rd world Afghan army a few outdated propeller planes and helicopters in their war against the Taliban terrorist?

    The US and NATO with the greatest military, weapons, and airpower, in the history of the world couldn't defeat the Taliban in their 15 year war against them? .. And now? .. What chance if any, does the 3rd world Afghan army with a few outdated (hand me down) propeller planes and helicopters have of defeating the Taliban now? .. Did you say, zero to none, bet on the Taliban?

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