The Afghan Air Force Hercules unit is complete, after the fourth and final Lockheed C-130H the Asian nation receives from the USA landed at Hamid Karzai IAP of Kabul on 20 June 2015. All aircraft fly with AAF 1 Wing.
Airmen of Little Rock AFB in Arkansas keep supporting the Afghan Air Force crews in managing to operate the aircraft, which were introduced in 2010 after the US top generals stopped Afghan C-27A operations in a controversial move, with delivery of those Spartans more or less already halfway.
Five years later the Afghan tactical airlift fleet depends mostly on the now four C-130s. The first two arrived in 2013, a third mid-2014 and this month the last touched down. If the maintenance crews can keep the machines airborne, they will be a hard sought after commodity for the Afghan military forces which are still battling Taleban troops supported by other nations like the US and many NATO contries.
“Afghanistan needs to perform more missions and having a fourth C-130 allows for that,” Afghan Air Force Captain and C-130 pilot Muhammad Azimy says to US military reporters. “We need to support more troops, moving them as soon as possible from one point to another, getting them into the fight faster. Getting commandos from the north to the south by helicopter would take days, but by C-130 it will take only a few hours.”
After pressure from USAF senior officials the US Department of Defense scrapped the already procured 16 Alenia G222s, aka C-27As, from the Afghan Air Force service in 2012. At the time of the cancellation 12 of the 16 were mission-ready at Kabul with Afghan personnel partly responsible for the aircraft. According to critics the personnel competence problems with operating the Hercules will be the same as with the C-27s. With a lower number of aircraft – 4 against 16 – the transport fleet of the Afghan Air Force will be very much relying on US forces for some time to come.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: An Afghan Air Force pilot flies a AAF C-130 Hercules during an “advisory mission” with US Air Force airmen from 438th Air Expeditionary Wing/NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan 10 March 2014, over Kabul (Image © Tech. Sgt. Jason Robertson / US Air Force)