Afghan National Army Air Corps: February 2009 Update

The ANA. Click map to view.

The Afghan Security Force Order of Battle has been updated at the ASF OOB homepage. The significant changes and developments to the Afghan National Army Air Corps (ANAAC) order of battle are summarized below.

Force Development and Training

The ANAAC is currently focused on developing its air transport capability. For operational and strategic transportation support, the ANAAC is adding fixed-wing transport for capability to transfer troops and supplies across the country. For tactical support, the ANAAC is adding helicopter transport for infantry deployments. A specific emphasis is in providing each commando battalion with a four-helicopter detachment to allow air mobility for tactical and quick response force operations. Additionally, the ANAAC is providing helicopter medical evacuation support plus fixed- and rotary-wing VIP transport.

The ANAAC’s organization development is focused on pilot training, maintenance training, and construction of facilities. At least 301 pilots have been trained. In 2008, 46 pilot candidates were selected from the National Military Academy of Afghanistan and from current Afghan National Army members. In 2009, these pilot candidates will begin two years of training in the US, Canada, and India.

ANAAC personnel first complete 16 weeks of basic training at the Kabul Military Training Center before transfer to the Kabul Air Corps Training Center (KACTC) for aviation training. KACTC started its first class in maintenance support skills training on April 5, 2008. As of December 2008, 357 students were in training at KACTC.

The Kabul ANAAC Headquarters, Joint Aviation Facility (maintenance), and Air Corps Training Center faculties have been constructed. A facility at Kandahar Airfield is currently under construction.


The capacity and capabilities of the ANAAC have continued to improve as the service gains experience executing re-supply missions, troop movements, and humanitarian assistance operations. The ANAAC now operates from Kabul, Gardez, Jalabad, Herat and Kandahar airfields. The first MI-17 presidential transport mission was flown on Oct. 28, 2008.

• Jan-Mar 2008: The ANAAC flew 3,331 passengers, 16,285 kg of cargo, 162 sorties, and nine HRR/MedEvac missions.

• Sep-Nov 2008: The ANAAC flew 8,498 passengers, 102,000 kg of cargo, 789 sorties, and 98 HRR/MedEvac missions.

Planned Force Structure

From published information, the force structure of the Afghan National Army Air Corps can be inferred. The current plan is to complete this structure by the end of 2015. However, with the acceleration of Afghan National Army development recently approved, it is likely that ANAAC development will also be accelerated.

The ANAAC is to be a total of 7,400 personnel and 126 aircraft:

• 61 MI-17 transport helicopters:

• • 58 MI-17v5 configured for troops transport.

• • 3 MI-17DV configured for VIP transport.

• 9 MI-35 attack helicopters.

• 28 fixed-wing cargo aircraft:

• • 20 C-27 (2 configurable for VIP transport).

• • 6 AN-32.

• • 2 AN-26.

• 28 fixed-wing single-engine turboprop light attack aircraft with precision weapons capability.

These personnel and aircraft are to be organized into a force structure, including two wings, three regional support squadrons, and two detachments.

Kabul Wing – 3,700 personnel supporting 201st Corps and the Capitol Division, equipped with:

• 14 fixed-wing cargo aircraft.

• 14 light attack aircraft.

• 16 transport helicopters to support 201st Corps Commando Battalion and the three commando battalions in the National Commando Brigade.

• 2 transport helicopters for Medical Evacuation (MedEvac).

• 3 attack helicopters.

Kandahar Wing – 2,500 personnel supporting the 205th Corps, equipped with:

• 14 fixed-wing cargo aircraft.

• 14 light attack aircraft.

• 4 transport helicopters to support 205th Corps Commando Battalion.

• 2 transport helicopters for MedEvac.

• 2 attack helicopters.

Gardez Regional Support Squadron – Supporting the 203rd Corps, equipped with:

• 4 transport helicopters to support 203rd Corps Commando Battalion.

• 2 transport helicopters for MedEvac.

• 2 attack helicopters.

Herat Regional Support Squadron – Supporting 207th Corps, equipped with:

• 4 transport helicopters to support 207th Corps Commando Battalion.

• 2 transport helicopters for MedEvac.

• 2 attack helicopters.

Mazir-e-Sharif Regional Support Squadron – Supporting 209th Corps, equipped with:

• 4 transport helicopters to support 209th Corps Commando Battalion.

• 2 transport helicopters for MedEvac.

• 2 attack helicopters.

VIP Transport Detachment – Kabul, equipped with:

• 3 transport helicopters.

There is also an unidentified detachment, whose purpose and composition are currently unknown.

The ANAAC is a work-in-progress that continues to develop and improve. In 2007, NATO forces flew 90 percent of the missions in support of Afghan Army. Today, the Afghan National Army Air Corps flies 90 percent of its own missions.



  • Rosario says:

    Thank you for the information, I was not aware the Afghans were building an Air Force and was hoping they would. This is the most hopeful war news I’ve heard about Afghanistan in a long time.

  • Trophy Wench says:

    CJ: great work with the update, I think I share the feelings of a lot of readers here looking for Afghanistan updates and the work being done for the ANAAC seems very promising. Although, if memory serves I seem to remember seeing a DOD requirement circulating on the internet for a number of screening trainer aircraft on behalf of the Afghan Government to be delivered at some point. (for the life of me I wish I could find the link.) Have you seen or heard anything concerning this development? And if so, has it moved forward?

  • cjr says:

    Trophy Wench
    I havent seen any references to purchasing trainer aircraft. ANAAC used to have some L39 training aircraft but no reference to them lately.
    ANAAC is sending pilot candidates to US for training. I’m guessing this is cheaper/better than buying and operating training aircraft in Afghanistan.
    ANA and ANP updates to follow shortly…….

  • Trophy Wench says:

    I found the link (finally):
    It seems that this is more of a market research request than an actual RFP of sorts. Regardless I do feel that the ANAAC is better off send it’s pilots abroad for flight training. I’m sure its not only cheaper but safer too.

  • anand says:

    Trophy Wench,
    That is a strange looking market research report. Why would the ANAAC buy 28 turbotrop light attack aircraft versus jet light attack aircraft (such as the F/A 50 for example) if the initial acquisition cost is not considered?
    What is the operations cost of the turbotrop light attack aircraft versus a supersonic light attack aircraft? Cost per mile flown? Cost per pound of munition carried per mile flown?
    28 light attack supersonic aircraft would cost about $1 billion in one time acquisition costs (including the cost of some spare parts.) Wouldn’t all of us be better off funding this one time acquisition cost and giving the Afghans some real multifunction fighter capabilities?
    There is a discussion thread on the ANAAC here:

  • anand says:

    Are these rough estimates of annual lifecycle cost per fighter aircraft in the right ball park?:
    Would a light attack supersonic aircraft would cost $250 million to operate over 20 years or $12.5 million a year?
    28 such aircraft would cost $7 billion over 20 years or $350 million a year.
    An F16 might cost $400 million over 20 years or $20 million a year; or $300 million and $15 million a year excluding the one time $100 million acquisition cost.

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