by Staff Sgt. Eric Summers Jr.
23rd Wing Public Affairs
9/29/2014 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Georgia (AFNS) -- The
first of 20 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft arrived here Sept. 26, in
preparation for the Afghanistan pilot and maintenance training mission.
The A-29 is a light air support training aircraft that will be used to
train 30 Afghan pilots and 90 Afghan maintainers as part of a
requirement from the International Security Assistance Force to conduct
training outside of Afghanistan.
"This is a very unique program, it's a great opportunity and it's
definitely a great day for Moody Air Force Base," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey
Hogan, the A-29 Light Air Support training unit commander. "This
aircraft is perfect for the mission; it's going to be a great
opportunity for us to interact with the Afghans. We will be teaching
them, but we will be learning from them as well."
The need for the A-29 comes as the current Afghan air force LAS
aircraft, the Mi-35 attack helicopter, reaches the end of its service
life in January 2016.
"Specifically the mission that we are going to replace is the Mi-35
Helicopter, which is an attack helicopter, so they cover some of the
same missions," Hogan said. "But really this aircraft is a monumental
leap in capabilities for the Afghan air force. It will allow us to do
some overlap of those (Mi-35) missions and will do a lot better; it will
also expand some other missions, which they currently cannot execute.
During the unveiling ceremony held the day prior to the arrival, Maj.
Gen. John McMullen, the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-
Afghanistan commander Air, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan deputy commander,
also spoke about Afghanistan's need for the aircraft.
"Clearly the biggest gap in the Afghan air force is the ability to
deliver fire from the air to the enemy on the ground," McMullen said.
"The missing piece that is vital to the (Afghan National Security Force)
success is an air to ground platform that can drop precision weapons,
that has the speed and the range to (reach) out to all of Afghanistan,
and that platform is the A-29. It's the perfect aircraft for the terrain
in Afghanistan, it's the perfect aircraft for the conflict in
Afghanistan, and it's the perfect aircraft for the Afghanistan air
The United States frequently hosts aircraft training to international
students from different countries such as Norway, Poland, Singapore, the
Netherlands, and Iraq on the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The U.S. also
provides Afghan students flying training in other established programs
at bases in Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Eight of the 10
Afghan students in the first training class at Moody AFB have previously
earned their wings through Air Force pilot training.
"The Air Force trains international students, thousands of them, every
day," Hogan said. "The pilots we are getting are just another product
that we have produced over the years. We have the procedures and
policies in place to ensure that the mission is executed safely. They
are not new pilots; they are very experienced and we will always be
flying in the aircraft with them."
Following the training, all 20 aircraft will be provided to the Afghan
air force and will provide air-to-ground and aerial reconnaissance
capabilities to support Afghanistan's counterinsurgency operations and
airborne self-defense for their government and citizens.
"As Gen. McMullen said, the Afghan air force very much needs the A-29,"
said Afghan air force Maj. Gen. Abdul Wahab Wardak, Afghan air force
commander, during the A-29 unveiling ceremony in Jacksonville, Fla.
"Right now we do not have any type of aircraft that can guard the troops
and provide the support. Thank you to everyone that has worked this
program. And our friendship will continue to grow and be strong into the