The US Air Force has started training the Afghan maintainers and pilots on the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft in Georgia at the Moody Air Force base. In the month of September 2014, the Sierra Nevada Corporation had delivered about twenty Embraer A-29 aircrafts to the US Air Force.
The 81st fighter squadron of the US Air Force has started instructing the personnel of the Afghan Air Force on the aircraft ahead of its commencement into this particular service in the latter half of 2015. The US Air Force had chosen the A-29 as a substitute for the Mil Mi-35M “Hind” assault choppers that are currently in use in the Afghan Air Force under the Light Air Support.
There is also an alternative for the provision of further twenty aircraft. The Super Tucano consists of a 1600 SHP Pratt and Whitney PT6A-68/3 turboprop engine and it can carry an array of different weapons. The aircraft has the capacity to carry 12.7 mm machine guns, and it can also accommodate additional underwing weaponry like the 20 mm cannon pods, precision-guided munitions, “dumb” bombs that can weigh up to 1500 kgs, rocket pods, and additional 12.7 mm machine guns. The endurance exhibited by the same is close to seven hours and it can work on air field that may even by semi-prepared.
Due to factors like legal wrangling, changing requirements, and a tight US defense budget have led to the delay in the introduction of the light strike turboprop into service for the Afghan Air Force.