first published on June 1, 2018 by Josh
The A-29 Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano light attack aircraft was declared the winner of the US Light Air Support contract competition over the Hawker Beechcraft AT-6B Texan II in 2011, winning it the position as the primary light aircraft for the Afghan Air Force, who purchased roughly 20 of the aircraft in 2013. It wasn’t until 2016 that the first four aircraft arrived, with another four slated to arrive at the end of the same year, and pilots began training to conduct combat operations with the air frame. In 2017, the aircraft were used in approximately 2,000 sorties, or an average of 40 times per week for the entirety of the year with the record being set at 80 sorties in a single in October of 2017.
It wasn’t until March of 2018 that the Afghan Air Force finally was trained on, and able to complete an airstrike using the laser-guided GBU-58 Paveway II bomb. Just recently, the Afghan Air Force Public Affairs Team released a reel of footage taken from the gun-mounted camera systems of the A-29 Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano light attack aircraft showing three minutes of footage where the Afghan Air Force successfully dropped more GBU-58 Paveway II bombs on targets of opportunity against both ISIS-K and the Taliban across the war-torn nation of Afghanistan. You can view the first instance of the Afghan Air Force dropping a laser guided munition at this link.
On top of these airstrikes, that are fully controlled by the Government of Afghanistan and her armed forces, a multitude of ground operations have been carried out to regain control of key terrain inside of the nation. These engagements, largely conducted without the support of Operation Resolute Support, have been a key factor in the success of eliminate the Taliban and ISIS-K from the nation and restoring control of Southern Afghanistan to the control of the Government. Just three months after the AAF successfully completed training on the GBU-58 munition, the AAF loaded, manned, and dropped the weapon system with perfect precision in a combat environment with minimal aid from Operation Resolute Support advisers.
“Key pieces that you’re seeing is that the Afghan Air Force itself, one of the more lethal organizations they have, and one that we’re looking to triple in size by 2023, is conducting significantly more air operations in direct support of the ANDSF on the battlefield, to the tune of 500 more sorties this year than they did the year before,” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Lance Bunch, director of future operations, Resolute Support, in a December 2017 press conference. These numbers have been maintained by the Afghan Security Forces for a duration of time, and have proven that the Afghan Government is preparing to take full control of operations with minimal support from outside forces.