New Phase for Afghan Air Force

Shindand Air Base, Afghanistan, has officially received its first two aircraft, a pair of Mi-17 helicopters. From this humble beginning, the Afghan Air Force plans to grow the Soviet-era base into its “crown jewel” for helicopter and close air support training, with plans to have 40 aircraft and more than 900 personnel in place by 2015. To support this growth, $184 million is earmarked for infrastructure improvements over that period. “NATO will not be here forever, so everything we build we are building to make sure Afghanistan has the best air force possible,” explained Brig. Gen. David Allvin, commanding general of NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan. Initially, Afghan flight instructors will train at Shindand so that the AAF may move away from dependence on NATO for aircrew training. (438th AEW report by Vladimir Potapenko)