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    New advanced training aircraft for the Afghan Air Force



    Courtesy Story

    ISAF Regional Command West

    Story by: Sgt. Juan Ardura Santa Engracia
    Regional Command-West PIO NCO

    HERAT, Afghanistan – After receiving a month ago the first initial training aircraft for the Afghan Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training, this morning the first three of six new Cessna C-208B advanced trainers have arrived at Shindand Air Base. Capable of carrying a combination of ten passengers and up to 3000 pounds of cargo, they can serve in a light transport aircraft role, and as such twenty more will be acquired by the AAF to be stationed across Afghanistan.

    Along with the three more that will arrive in the next weeks, these aircraft will be used in the advanced follow on fixed wing pilot training. In addition to the fixed wing program, there will be six MD-530 light helicopters delivered later this year, and six Mi-17 helicopters already in place, devoted to the rotary wing portion of the UPT. The training is provided by a cadre of United States, Italian, Hungarian and Afghan Air Force instructors, which form the 444th Air Expeditionary Adviser Squadron.

    In 2009, the Afghanistan Ministry of Defence selected its first group of pilot candidates on which to build its future Air Force. Absent any indigenous training resources or facilities, these future pilots were sent to the U.S. where they were enrolled in language immersion training, followed by USAF undergraduate pilot training. Now, Shindand Air Base already provides basic facilities for the training of pilots and crews, and construction on the new facilities is ongoing, due to be completed between February and April next year. Shindand Air Base will not only be the center for pilot training, but will eventually serve as the training center for much of the AAF. This will include maintenance, language and professional military education, and training in the myriad support functions and skills necessary for the nearly 1400 Shindand Air Wing Airmen to sustain the base and flight school operations.

    “Many of the students we have already received training years ago before the Taliban took over the country. The challenge is to bring them to current standards, along with training new pilots and crews,“ declared Col. John J. Hokaj (U.S. Air Force), Commander of the 838th Air Expeditionary Adviser Group; “The final goal is that, in three years, the students we train now will be able to train new pilots and crews themselves, and be truly self-sufficient.”

    The first class of AAF pilots will start classes later this year, marking the first time in decades that new fixed wing pilots have been trained in Afghanistan. These students, along with their Afghan counterparts currently undergoing flight training in the United States, will graduate as fully rated instrument pilots and serve as the backbone of the AAF.

    They will fill a critical role in the transition to a fully capable and self-sufficient AAF.

    Lt. Fazil Amery is one of the newly designated students; he has already received initial pilot training in India, and is eager to begin advanced training: “It is a privilege to be able to study in my country.” Lt. Col. Abdul Hashim [AAF] said: “In the near future, to have our own training facilities will create a truly Afghan Air Force.”



    Date Taken: 10.22.2011
    Date Posted: 10.23.2011 14:05
    Story ID: 78885
    Location: HERAT, AF 

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