The Afghanistan defense ministry announced on September 17 that the country’s air force received an additional four A-29 Super Tucano aircraft from the US.
During the transfer ceremony, acting defense minister, General Assadullah Khalid, appreciated the US and NATO assistance in financing and equipping the ANDSF and emphasized on the continuation of the assistance until terrorism is eradicated from Afghanistan and the region.
Lt. General John Deedrick Jr., the commanding general of Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan (CSTC-A) said: “The transfer of A-29 planes demonstrate the US and NATO’s commitment to assist and support ANDSF.”
It is not clear whether the four Super Tucanos were previously in the United States as part of a pilot training program or whether these are completely new airframes. Should the latter be the case, the delivery would bring the total number of A-29s in Afghan Air Force inventory to 29.
According to a Pentagon report from June this year, the Middle East country had a fleet of 25 Super Tucanos delivered by Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC). At the time, 15 were in Afghanistan and 10 were still in the US for training purposes. It is worth noting that in July this year, an American pilot ejected from a Super Tucano that crashed in Afghanistan’s northeastern Baghlan Province, resulting in the loss of the airframe.
According to the same Pentagon report, Afghan instructor pilots will soon be able to train Initial Qualification Training (IQT) students in-country with the transition of IQT from Moody Air Force Base to Afghanistan. The first IQT class conducted entirely outside the United States is projected to start this month.
SNC, the US company that delivers the A-29 together with its Brazilian partner Embraer, currently has a $1.8 billion indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity contract for the delivery of Super Tucanos to Afghanistan that runs until 2024. It is not known how many of the aircraft are expected to be procured, but reports put the price of a single airframe at around $20 million.