The Afghan Air Force’s Manning Shortfall

The fledgling Afghan Air Force does not have enough aircrews operational or in training for either its current or projected fleet, though the limited pipeline is growing, according to a new Pentagon report. The Defense Department’s “Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan” report, released Friday, outlines issues facing the Afghan military and the security situation in the country. The 116-page report outlines the current state of the Afghan Air Force from Dec. 1, 2015, to May 31. “The development of human capital remains a critical component of overall AAF progress,” it states. For example, the AAF has just four fully trained pilots for its eight-aircraft fleet of A-29 Super Tucanos. The AAF expects to field 20 total A-29s for close air support, though it is struggling to identify capable pilots and train them. The AAF similarly has nine fully trained pilots for its four C-130s, and 27 MD-530 attack helicopter pilots for its authorized fleet of 30 aircraft. As of May 31, 172 students are enrolled in 18 US-funded training programs for AAF development, a 13 percent increase from last year. This covers basic pilot training, aviation safety, and language training. “The AAF continues to struggle with identifying candidates in sufficient time to complete the complex, multi-agency vetting process,” the report states. (See also: Afghan Air Support Picks Up, and Afghan Air Force On Right Path.) (Read the full report; Caution, large-sized file.)