The Afghan Air Force and their foreign counterparts have increased airstrikes against insurgents in the country following US President Donald Trump’s announcement last week of his new war strategy.
Over the past 24 hours, the Afghan Air Force (AAF) has conducted over 120 flights.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said the AAF has conducted missions over twenty locations in the last day.
Speaking to those who fly the aircraft and those who train the pilots, the morale was clearly high.
“I've been in the Afghan Air Force for four and a half years. My total hours of flight time is like 1,300. I have seen a lot of change in the Afghan Air Force. The first time, when I come in 2013, we did not have as many aircraft as we have now,” said one AAF pilot Mohammad Naeem.
“In 2013, we didn't have any of the fighter helicopters and the fighter jets; right now we have fighter helicopters and fighter jets here. At that time I would fly as a copilot, but now, I am flying as an Instructor Pilot and there's a lot of recruiting in the Afghan Air Force. We have a lot of pilots, and a lot of aircraft commanders,” he added.
“I love the helicoptor. I mean, I flew it originally and it inspired me to volunteer to come over here. It's a great helicopter to fly. Its a really good scout helicopter, designed for what it's doing. A lot of the Afghans I've worked with, anyway, have been great to fly with. I flew with a lot of the really high speed guys the guys who really knew what they were doing, so it's been a pleasure to fly with some of those guys, especially the younger ones. We're trying to let them do their own thing,” said one foreign trainer.
“So, I'll pick up the pilots in the morning, we'll run through their briefing for the day, what their mission objectives are and how they're going to go out and attack those and make those happen to support the Afghan Ground Forces and bring them back home safely every day. So this is my second tour as an advisor, but I was deployed last year to Kabul as an advisor for the 829s (UK squadron). So it's my second time I get to see the guys again, and I had a previous deployment as an F-16 pilot. It's been a very positive experience. I've gotten to train the Afghan pilots that fly these aircraft since the first day they flew them, and its amazing to watch them go from the first day that they flew the airplane to where they are executing combat operations 100 percent on their own, again just getting to watch that complete advancement from just basic flying the aircraft to the tactical prowess level that there is at this moment,” said another trainer.
“We discuss which target should be hit by the Afghan Air Force and which target by the US and RS forces,” said MoD spokesman Dawlat Waziri.
Meanwhile the Pentagon has signed a $727 million USD contract with a US firm in support of the Afghan Air Force.
The US has also pledged to deliver 150 aircraft to the Afghan Air Force within the next few years.