News: AAF reaches milestone: 2,000 hours flown in the C-27
KABUL, Afghanistan - The Afghan air force with NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan support reached 2,000 hours of flight time in the C-27A Spartan aircraft during a passenger transport mission from the Afghan Air Force Base in Kabul to the Kandahar Air Wing Feb. 10.
AAF and NATC-A personnel reached the landmark while transporting over thirty Afghan National Army personnel from Kabul to Kandahar, all the while gaining important experience flying based solely off of aircraft instrumentation due to the less than desirable weather conditions.
“Each of these milestones is an important step in the C-27’s path to replacing the Antonov-32 as the main transport aircraft of the Afghan air force, and the centerpiece of this force,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Larry Needham, a C-27 advisor with the 538th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron.
Yet not only significant in marking the C-27’s ascension in AAF, the 2,000 hour mark is a great measure of pilot training and development.
“Over time, as we have flown more and more, we have become better pilots and have been able to learn instrument flying,” said AAF Maj. Wali Bagrammid, a pilot on the flight.
“During the time spent in air, we have been able to observe and improve our methods of training,” said Capt. Needham, originally from Kalamazoo, Mich. “Because of the time spent in this aircraft, we have been able to learn how to advise and these Afghan pilots have learned how to fly. We now have a better understanding of the not only the aircraft’s capabilities, but the capabilities of the pilots themselves.”
“Based on where these pilots are at this point in time, a day where the Afghan air force can fly and service these aircrafts without coalition support is foreseeable. Ultimately, the goal is independence,” he said.
Though a significant achievement in the developing Afghan air force, the pilots who made the milestone-reaching flight were unaware that it bore any special importance before landing.
“We we not aware of the circumstances,” said Maj. Bagrammid. “We were just doing our jobs.”
The C-27A is a rugged, twin-engine turboprop aircraft with short take-off and landing capability. The Spartan is well suited for Afghanistan's mountainous terrain and limited road network.
These obstacles make air power critical to the mobility of the Afghan National Security Forces. A C-27 can carry up to 20,000 pounds of cargo and fuel and operate on unimproved airfields as short as 3,000 feet, which allows access to airstrips unreachable by most fixed-wing aircraft.