An Afghan A-29 Super Tucano taxis toward the flightline at Kabul Air Wing after being loaded with munitions Sept. 12, 2017, in Kabul Afghanistan. Photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander Riedel/U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs/U.S. Air Force
Sept. 5 (UPI) -- Sierra Nevada has received a $1.8 billion contract for purchase and sustainment of the A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft and related equipment for the government of Afghanistan.
Work on the contract, announced Tuesday by the Department of Defense, will be performed at Moody Air Force Base, and Kabul, Kandahar, and Mazari Sharif Air Bases in Afghanistan. The contract is expected to be completed by December 2024 and falls under foreign military sales.
The contract comes from funds appropriated for the Afghanistan Security Forces, with $115,478 being obligated at the time of award for a site survey in Afghanistan.
The Afghan government has been struggling to develop its own air forces despite heavy U.S. investment and training, and the Afghan military is still highly dependent on U.S. air support. The AAF's inventory is a mixture of Russian, American and other nation's helicopters and light aircraft
The Afghan's still rely on legacy and recently purchased Soviet-era platforms like the Mi-17 Hip transport and Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters. Many air systems purchased for the AAF since the U.S. invasion in 2001 have been of little utility due to lack of trained personnel and maintenance capabilities.
The AAF and its U.S. military partners have been taking a different approach with the purchase of light planes like the A-29 Super Tucano turboprop attack plane.
Light planes like the A-29 Super Tucano and the Textron Aviation AT-6B Wolverine are being proposed for attack roles in the U.S. and allied air forces as well. Their relatively low cost and ease of maintenance make them well suited for continuous counterinsurgency roles when there is little advanced anti-aircraft resistance expected.
They are capable of carrying weapons like .50 caliber machine guns, rockets and other ordinance as well as reconnaissance sensor pods and other gear.