The 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody AFB, Ga., which will train Afghan pilots to fly the A-29 Super Tucano, formally stood up on Oct. 1. The squadron is slated to begin training later this month, states a release. The 81st FS is a geographically separated unit of the 14th Flying Training Wing, based at Columbus AFB, Miss., which is responsible for training international airmen. “The unit will begin training a cadre of instructor pilots and maintainers in the A-29 this month, and in February 2015 the 81st FS will begin training the first class of Afghan pilots and maintainers,” said Col. James Boster, 14th Operations Group commander. The squadron is expected to train 30 Afghan pilots and 90 maintainers under a requirement from the International Security Assistance Force, which leads the NATO-supported effort to support Afghanistan in its fight against the Taliban insurgency. The A-29 light air support aircraft will replace the Mi-35 attack helicopters, currently flown by the Afghan Air Force. But the Tucanos will be “a monumental leap in capabilities,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Hogan, the A-29 Light Air Support Training Unit commander. (See also First A-29 Delivered to USAF.)
More than 100 B-21s will be needed if the nation is to avoid creating a high demand/low capacity capability, panelists said on a Hudson Institute webinar. The B-21's flexibility, stealth, range and payload will be in high demand for a wide range of missions, both traditional and new.