by Nathan Simmons
AETC Public Affairs
11/1/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- The
new fixed-wing pilot schoolhouse in Afghanistan at Shindand Air Base,
Herat Province, graduated its first three fixed-wing pilots this
month -- the first to be produced in Afghanistan in more than 30
years -- a major milestone for the U.S. and Afghan Air Forces.
Three Afghan air force first lieutenants became the first pilots to
complete the entire fixed-wing program in country since the schoolhouse
was established in December 2011. The pilots completed Undergraduate
Pilot Training in Cessna 182 and 208 aircraft, and upon completion of
co-pilot initial qualification training, these new Afghan pilots will
become operational C-208 co-pilots for the Afghan air force.
Traditionally, pilot production for U.S. allies comes through the
stateside training pipeline, but Afghan training program manager Albert
Zuniga said pilot production in Afghanistan was important for rebuilding
the fledgling Afghan air force. Training in Afghanistan also ensures
the schooling is tailored for the aircraft and environment in which the
new Afghan pilots will be operating.
"The Afghans were coming through the CONUS pipeline here for some time,
because indigenous capability did not exist," Zuniga said. "We're going
to be able to produce many more Afghan pilots now that the Shindand
schoolhouse is up and running."
While the CONUS pilot training program produced 21 Afghan pilots in the
last three years, the school at Shindand Air Base is primed to produce
38 more fixed-wing pilots in the next 12 months.
"The success of the Shindand Air Wing flight training will ensure an
enduring, capable, and professional Air Force that can contribute to
Afghanistan's security well into the future," said Col. Thomas Schadegg,
Deputy Director for AETC International Education and Training.
AETC's Air Force Security Assistance Training Squadron, or AFSAT, is the
working arm of the command's International Affairs Directorate, and is
the executive agent for all U.S. Air Force-sponsored international
training. AFSAT is responsible for managing this pilot training program
and supporting the air advisors working with the Afghan air force to
accomplish their training mission.
Through language schools, various types of technical and flying
training, and professional military education, AETC is training more
than 6,500 students from approximately 150 countries annually in the
U.S., with various U.S. Air Force teams in more than 40 countries