• Friday, November 24, 2017

U.S. wants to build ‘tsunami of air power’ in Afghanistan, but impact is years away

Discussion in 'Strategic & Foreign Affairs' started by ashok321, Nov 13, 2017.

  1. ashok321

    ashok321 ELITE MEMBER

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    U.S. wants to build ‘tsunami of air power’ in Afghanistan, but impact is years away

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    KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Just over one month ago, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan declared at a ceremony here that a new fleet of 159 Black Hawk helicopters, flown by Afghan pilots, would help create a “tsunami of air power” to turn around the stalemated conflict with Taliban insurgents.

    But the UH-60s won’t have an impact for at least several years on an intense war that has already cost at least $700 billion since 2001 — and is showing no signs of letting up.

    The versatile, hardy U.S. Army aircraft, each costing more than $7 million to refurbish and deliver, are intended to gradually replace the Afghan fleet of Soviet-era Mi-17 choppers to carry out military cargo drops, troop transport and medical evacuations. But they are already coming late to the game, a drawback aggravated by the slow pace of UH-60 deliveries, the limit of six Afghan pilots in each three-month training course, and the need to keep the Mi-17 choppers in action in the meantime.

    President Trump’s new military strategy in Afghanistan has made beefing up the Afghan air force a top priority, and U.S. military officials said the Black Hawk program is being accelerated, amid the press of war and the broader agenda of building a professional air force.


    During two days of classroom training and aerial practice for six future Black Hawk pilots at Kandahar Airfield last week, the students’ motivation and experience were evident. All were seasoned Mi-17 pilots, mostly in their 30s and 40s, and they seemed confident in their ability to transfer their skills to the Black Hawks.

    In one class, a U.S. instructor rapidly reviewed a checklist of emergency procedures in English. Most involved multiple technical terms and required instant decisions in the cockpit. The six students, all Afghan air force officers, listened intently. Two sat on either side of an Afghan interpreter, who translated especially complicated phrases in a murmur.


    “We know the systems completely now, but we are still inside and practicing,” Capt. Jawad Saqib, 32, said during a class break. “When you are on a mission, you are not flying from airport to airport. You may be flying in dust or fog, at a low altitude or in a confined area, so it is more challenging. We have to memorize a lot of terms and know every possible condition,” Saqib added. “You have to feel the aircraft like it is a part of your body.”

    Earlier that morning, four of the trainees took turns at the controls of a UH-60 cockpit, circling over the airfield with an American trainer beside them. It was an ideal flying day, with a light breeze and a cloudless blue sky. One after another, the helicopters descended and approached, hovering in place before touching down, and then taking off for another round.

    Capt. Zabiullah Dorandish, 27, tried to keep a solemn face as he hopped down onto the tarmac after his practice flight. He declared that it had been a “perfect day” aloft and that the only problem had been a confusing blizzard of radio communications in English.

    “A few times I had to keep answering, ‘Say again, say again,’ but then I was fine,” he said. His flight instructor nodded in approval, saying the Afghan pilots “exceed our standards every day.”

    Three months from now, the six students will be ready to take the controls unaided and head back into war: delivering troops and dropping supplies to battlefield outposts, evacuating the wounded and dead, and, in some cases, firing mounted machine guns to provide defensive air cover.

    Meanwhile, a second batch of six officers will leave their jobs as Mi-17 pilots, start the UH-60 course and be qualified for action by spring. While that transition may be relatively painless for pilots, U.S. air advisers said that training Afghans to perform Black Hawk maintenance, repair and inspections will take from five to seven years. Currently, 80 percent of all work on U.S.-supplied military aircraft here is being done by U.S. and other foreign contractors.

    Several U.S. advisers noted that the Mi-17s have more space for passengers and are tough enough to keep going for many more years. The problem, they said, is lack of upkeep. Only 25 in the fleet of 45 are currently operable, because it has become hard to obtain parts and certification inspections from countries familiar with the Soviet-built choppers. The rest sit rusting on airfield parking lots.

    “We just can’t extend them. We have to retire them,” Insley said.

    Despite the constraints of time, language, delivery, maintenance and on-the-job pilot training, U.S. military officials said they believe the Black Hawk program will contribute to the overall wartime “asymmetric advantage” of air power for Afghanistan’s defense forces.

    Eventually, the number of military aircraft is slated to double, with a full fleet of Afghan-operated AC-208s for surveillance, A-29s for attack, MD-530s for landing at difficult spots and Black Hawks for heavy lifting. The roster of Afghan air force personnel will triple to 8,000, including coordinators to call in airstrikes, an air academy graduating 250 cadets per year, and an officer candidate school graduating 50.

    For now, though, the war grinds on. Insurgents armed with suicide vests, assault rifles and an occasional stolen Humvee continue to gain ground in a growing number of provinces and carry out terrorist attacks in the capital — all without a single asset in the air.
     
  2. ashok321

    ashok321 ELITE MEMBER

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    Black Hawks VS Anza (if Taliban can get them) And the US knows it.
     
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  3. Signalian

    Signalian SENIOR MEMBER

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    UH-60 Black hawk offers only compatibility with US systems and other US UH-60's. Its good profit for Sikorsky. Other than this, Mi-17 carries more payload, passengers and is more rugged in harsh terrain.
     
  4. xyxmt

    xyxmt ELITE MEMBER

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    CIA will provide ANZA to talibans
     
  5. BABA AGHORI

    BABA AGHORI FULL MEMBER

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    And will put blame on next target... :D
     
  6. xyxmt

    xyxmt ELITE MEMBER

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    off course, but this next target is poisonous toad, whoever will try to swallow it will perish.

    ask USSR, ask Alex the great
     
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  7. Jon-Snow

    Jon-Snow SENIOR MEMBER

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    no matter if US attacks us or Martians if someone tried to send us to oblivion we won't Go alone Pados wli auntie will also go along with us
     
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  8. BABA AGHORI

    BABA AGHORI FULL MEMBER

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    Lol, toad and it's pool..
    USSR fall because of extensive debt and drawing economy. Another country has similar economic characteristics what USSR had just at the time of fall.

    Ha ha, who blamed you.. begani shaadi mei abudulla dewana.. :blink:
    avoid playing the victim card
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
  9. khail007

    khail007 FULL MEMBER

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    They have shown their every muscle since last 17 years in Afghanistan and still they think? Is this the capability of a super power and the 'STATE OF THE ART' weapons?
     
  10. Garfield

    Garfield SENIOR MEMBER

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    :lol:

    Afghanistan is a money swallowing pit ... and US taxpayers are being raped for it ... all good!
     
  11. ashok321

    ashok321 ELITE MEMBER

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    oh no .... not again!
     
  12. xyxmt

    xyxmt ELITE MEMBER

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    that other country is failing in Indian minds since 90s.
    That country is still here, much stronger than 90s

    dont forget to tell your kids to tell their kids how Pakistan is failing and is about to be broken :rofl:
     
  13. wiseone2

    wiseone2 BANNED

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    the problem with Mi-17 is that USA has sanctions on Russia. They are not willing to pay Russia. The Mi-17s are not exactly cheap anymore. They cost $15-20 million