The air training mission in Afghanistan is going well despite some “fits and starts,” the commander of US Air Forces Central Command said Thursday at AWS16. The effort to build the Afghan air force started late, but “right now I think it’s on a good path,” Lt. Gen. Charles Brown told Air Force Magazine. The MD-530 helicopter has already seen combat, and the A-29 Super Tucano is getting ready for combat operations, and the Afghans have stood up a strike group with those aircraft, Brown said. “That’s based on their esprit de corps and their training,” he said: US-trained Afghans want to brief, debrief, and get the most out of their mission, which is “a good sign.” While the Afghan air force used to be solely focused on operations, with very little training and maintenance, Brown said, they have started to see the importance of balance for an effective force. Additionally, they are getting applicants and students into their air academy to build up human capital. Still, “it’ll take a few more years,” Brown said, noting that the US has to “set the expectation bar at the right level.” Initially, he said, “we probably set the bar pretty high.”
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.