Since the last Afghan National Army Air Corps (ANAAC) update in February, a significant amount of new information has become available. This update summarizes major changes to the ANAAC’s status and organizational goals.
Current ANAAC status
The ANAAC now has an estimated 2,700 personnel. The aircraft inventory includes:
• 15 Mi-17v5 transport helicopters
• 3 Mi-17DV VIP transport helicopters
• 9 Mi-35 attack helicopters
• 5 AN-32 transport aircraft
• 2 AN-26 transport aircraft
• 2 L-39 jets
The Mi-17 helicopters are currently stationed at airbases in Kabul, Kandahar, and Herat. A detachment deploys for five days a time in Gardez in Paktia, then returns to Kabul for maintenance. The Mi-17s provide the ANAAC with the following capabilities:
• Battlefield mobility for the ANA’s commando battalions.
• MEDEVAC flights flown from Kabul and Kandahar.
• VIP transport flights flown from Kabul. Recently, this included transporting Presidential candidates during the campaign.
On May 27, training was completed for of the first batch of Mi-35 attack helicopters. Ground training and limited flight training for the crew members began last summer. In January, six refurbished helicopters arrived. Since then assessments have been completed for nine pilots. The ANAAC is building its own arming points and is working to complete all of the Mi-35 live-fire training at Afghan facilities. The ANAAC also is researching live-fire training locations throughout Afghanistan to better integrate the Mi-35 with the army. Initial operating capability has not been achieved yet, but is expected soon. This initial capability will not be full- fledged, close air support, but will be simpler roles having to do with escort and reacting to being fired upon. The Mi-35s will remain operational until end FY2013 when they will reach the end of their service life. They will be replaced by Mi-17s armed with rocket pods and machine guns. This will streamline maintenance and logistics operations to one combat helicopter airframe.
AN-32 and AN-26 cargo aircraft are stationed in Kabul and provide personnel and cargo transport throughout Afghanistan. By end2009, the Air Corps will receive the first four of 20 C-27 Spartan transport planes. The rest will be fielded over the following two years . By then, the AN-26s and AN-32s airframes will have reached the end of their service live and will be phased out.
The L-39 jets are used for ceremonial purposes only and will be phased out soon (if not already).
In April, 60 ANAAC pilot candidates were sent to the United States for training. The “Undergraduate Pilot Training Programs” (UPT) course of study lasts one year in the US Air Force, 17 months in the US Army, and two years in the US Navy. The US Army and Navy will train rotary-wing pilots, and the U.S. Air Force will train fixed-wing pilot candidates. In 2010 and 2011, 50 additional pilot candidates each year will start training in the United States.
ANAAC organizational goals
By end the end of 2015, the ANAAC plans to have a total of 139 aircraft and 7,250 personnel. The allotted aircraft will include:
Rotary wing aircraft:
• 58 Mi-17v5 (battlefield mobility, close air support)
• 3 Mi-17DV (VIP transport)
• 6 trainers
Fixed wing aircraft:
• 20 C-27 propeller transport (18 transport, 2 transport configurable for VIP transport)
• 4 propeller cargo aircraft based ISR
• 14 propeller light attack / ISR
• 20 light multi-role attack / air superiority jets
• 8 propeller basic trainers
• 6 propeller advanced trainers
A significant new addition to the plan is the light multi-role attack/air superiority jets. The specific aircraft has not been designated, but the Czech L-159 is a representative type. Another addition is the propeller cargo aircraft-based ISR. The specific aircraft has not been designated, but the Cessna C-208 is a representative type.
The ANAAC will be organized into 2 wings, 3 regional support squadrons and 2 detachments [See map for base locations; see OOB page 5 of specific aircraft assigned to each base].
• Kabul Air Wing – Supports National Commando Brigade, Fixed wing transport, VIP transport, attack , ISR.
• Kandahar Air Wing – Supports Regional Command (RC) – South / 205th Corps, Fixed wing transport, attack, ISR.
• Jalalabad Regional Support Squadron – Support RC – Central / 201st Corps.
• Shindand Regional Support Squadron – Supports RC – West / 207th Corps. Center for pilot training.
• Mazar-e-Sharif Regional Support Squadron -Supports RC-North / 209th Corps.
• Gardez Detachment – Supports RC- East / 203rd Corps.
• Herat Detachment – Supports RC-West / 207th Corps.
The center for pilot training will be in Shindand in Herat province. All training aircraft will be stationed in Shindand.
Fixed wing transport, attack, and ISR aircraft will be based in the Kabul and Kandahar air wings.
Mi-17 helicopters will be stationed at each of the 7 ANAAC bases. The Mi-17s support air mobility operations for the ANA commando battalions within their region. MEDEVAC helicopters are based in Kabul and Kandahar. VIP transport helicopters are based in Kabul.
The total cost of building the ANAAC, from its start in May 2007 to the completed organization of 7 bases, 139 aircraft, and 7,250 personnel by the end of FY2015, is approximately $5 billion.