The commander of NATO’s Train, Advise Assist Command-Air Brig. Gen. Phillip Stewart has said that the Afghan Air Force to triple in size over the next five years as efforts are underway to bolster the capabilities of the Afghan national defense and security forces.
Gen. Stewart further added that currently, the Afghan Air Force is approximately 8,000 airmen strong, with more than 120 aircraft.
But over the next five years, that force is essentially tripling in size, and the NATO mission will be needed to train those airmen up in “some way, shape, or form,” Stewart told the Air Force Times.
“There comes a time when they can do it on their own, but there’s still value added to help them do it better,” he added.
The Afghan Air Force currently operates roughly 20 of their A-29 aircraft in-country at any given time, and although that sounds small, it’s actually enough, according to Stewart.
“That’s only one part of a suite of airplanes,” he said. “They’re getting 159 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, some of which will be fixed-forward firing. They’re going to be doubling their MD-530 fleet and they’re going to be getting a large number of reconnaissance aircraft.”
The existing C-208 light cargo planes will be augmented by the AC-208 reconnaissance version, which will have a pod of 2.75-inch laser guided rockets on each wing.
“So they’re going to a have a very large strike fleet of aircraft, and not only that, but they’re precision guided aircraft,” he added. “[The Afghans] are fighting an insurgency, and this will be enough aircraft for that fight.”