Jan. 23 (UPI) -- A squadron of Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II "Warthogs" has joined the fight against the Taliban and Islamic State militants in Afghanistan for targeting of revenue sources and counter-terrorism operations, the Air Force announced on Tuesday.
The U.S. Air Forces Central Command said the ground attack aircraft arrived in the region on Jan. 19 to provide additional options for ground commanders needing close air support and precision strike capabilities.
The A-10s are expected to conduct their first strike operations in the coming days as a part of the recent campaign to destroy Taliban narcotic production facilities.
Additional MQ-9 Reapers, used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance mission and target strike operations, are also set to arrive in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as are HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters for medical evacuation missions and search and rescue operations.
The decision to send the additional assets are part of a U.S. Air Force decision to further bolster air power requirements between U.S. and coalition forces and Afghan security forces.
"The Taliban still has not felt the full brunt of American and Afghan air power," U.S. Air Force Major General James Hecker, commander of 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan and NATO Air Command-Afghanistan, said in a press release. "With the arrival of new air assets and the growing capabilities of Afghan pilots, the Taliban will have a constant eye towards the sky as an integrated unified fight is aimed directly to them."
Since last November, the Taliban's financial revenue stream has lost more than $20 million in product after 30 airstrikes against narcotics production facilities and other locations in the northern sector of Helmand, located in the south of Afghanistan.