Major General James B. Hecker, Commander, 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan told reporters in Pentagon “Three A-29 pilots are now trained to drop laser-guided munitions.”
Gen. Hecker further added “The first was dropped in training in December, so the Taliban can look forward to those laser-guided bombs raining on what used to be safe havens in the near future.”
He also added that in the future, the Afghan Air Force will also get what we call AC208s, and they’ll get a total of 32 of them. “These are similar to the C208, but this is an attack model, so it will carry pods with laser-guided rockets and a gun. It can also capture full-motion video and assist other aircraft to achieve precision targeting, making it an ISR asset, which is going to be key to enabling the A-29,” he added.
According to Gen. Hecker, in 2017, the Afghan Air Force conducted approximately 2,000 airstrike sorties, or roughly 40 strikes — sorties each week, with a record high of nearly 80 missions in a single week in October.
“To put this into context, the Afghan Air Force airstrike sorties are now almost double what the U.S. Air Force conducts in Afghanistan,” he said.