A-29 Super Tucanos Flying High Over Afghanistan
USAF Training Afghan Air Force for 2017 Fighting Season
Two Afghan A-29 Super Tucanos fly over Afghanistan, March 22, 2017, during a training mission before the beginning of the 2017 fighting season. Advisors from Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air, as part of Resolute Support Mission, work in tandem with their Afghan counterparts to foster working relationships and fortify confidence in the mission.
The A-29 Super Tucano is a turboprop light attack aircraft designed for counter-insurgency (COIN), close air support, and aerial reconnaissance in low-threat situations, as well as providing pilot training. Designed to operate in high temperatures and high humidity conditions in extremely rugged terrain, the Super Tucano is highly maneuverable, has a low heat signature, and incorporates fourth-generation avionics and weapons system to deliver precision-guided munitions.
It has a maximum speed of 590 km/h (319 knots, 367 mph) and cruise speed of 520 km/h (281 knots, 323 mph). It has a range of 1,330 km (720 nmi, 827 mi) and a combat radius of 550 km (300 nmi, 342 mi) (hi-lo-hi profile, 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) of external stores). It is fitted with two .50 caliber M3P machine guns firing 1,200 rounds per minute, with three pod options. It can carry a variety of missiles (air-to-air, air-to-ground) and bombs.
$427 Million Deal for the Afghan Air Force
The US purchased 20 A-29s for use with the Afghan Air Force in a $427 million deal with Sierra Nevada Corp and Embraer. Delivery began in January 2016 and is expected to be completed in December 2018. Afghan pilots were trained by the 81st Fighter Squadron (the Panthers) at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.
Afghan Air Force Gets Four More A-29s
On 20 March 2017, four more A-29 Super Tucanos arrived at Kabul Air Wing, Kabul, Afghanistan, before the beginning of the 2017 fighting season. The aircraft will bolster the Afghan Air Force’s inventory from eight to 12 A-29s in country as part of Resolute Support/Freedom’s Sentinel.
An Afghan A-29 pilot, who cannot be identified for security reasons, said:
The four additional aircraft will allow us to increase the number of missions we are able to support nationwide. More targets can be attacked—more ground troops can be supported.
Photo: Afghan A-29 Super Tucanos fly over Afghanistan, March 22, 2017 (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jordan Castelan).