The Afghan Air Force (AAF) is struggling to perform its mission of supporting the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP). It’s mission of aerial reconnaissance, movement of troops and supplies, and aerial fire support is vital to the success of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). However, with the departure of much of the air support that the Coalition provided, there are more requirements for air support than the current Coalition and AAF organizations can provide.
There are two major problems with the Afghan Air Force at this point in time.
First is there is a lack of aircraft. The limited numbers of cargo aircraft (C-208s, C-130s, etc.) do not provide enough airlift. The small number of close air support aircraft (MD-530s, A-29s, etc.) are not enough for the engagements that the ANDSF are encountering in the Summer Campaign 2016.
The second problem is that there are not enough trained pilots and maintenance personnel. One temporary fix (that will likely go on for years) is the use of foreign contract workers to maintain the aircraft. The shortage of Afghan pilots is a huge problem. It takes a few years to teach an Afghan English (required for aviation), how to fly, and then provide enough experience for him to be proficient in the use of his aircraft.
Read more on this topic in a news report by Josh Smith and Mirwais Harooni entitled “Afghan Air Force needs more pilots, as well as more planes”, Reuters, August 16, 2016.
Photo credit: A-29 Super Tucano close air support aircraft of the Afghan Air Force (AAF) flying over Kabul in 2016. Photo from DVIDS, DoD.