Sunday, October 31, 2010

Deadlines Loom as Afghans Struggle to Build Air Force

Building an air force almost from scratch would be tough for any country; for Afghanistan, where the clock is ticking on U.S. support, it's even more daunting.Many observers are focusing on 2011, the year when U.S. troops are expected to begin drawing down. But just as important is 2016, when the Afghan air force, a key part of the country's armed forces, is expected to operate independent of U.S. support and assistance.The Afghan air force operates a mix of Russian and Western aircraft that includes Russian-built Mi-17 troop transport aircraft, Mi-35 attack helicopters, Antonov transport aircraft and recently acquired Italian C-27 airlifters. Soon, the military will get Western-built light attack aircraft as well as a Western fixed-wing training aircraft.

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