Prime News, International (Kabul), July 13:- In its effort to stall the advance of the Taliban the Afghan government is banking on India, Iran, Russia and the US to beef up its air power amid Washington’s decision to withdraw its forces from the Hindukush mountains.
In its effort to stall the advance of the Taliban the Afghan government is banking on India, Iran, Russia and the United States to beef up its air power amid Washington’s decision to withdraw its forces from the Hindukush mountains.
The Afghan government is confident to break the Taliban’s advance, provided the dilution of airpower following the US withdrawal is sufficiently compensated.
But as of now the Afghans face a steep uphill task.
The Afghan air force has 162 airplanes and helicopters, providing the government with considerable firepower. But a major problem is arising as the US is not only withdrawing its troops but also the bulk of the 16,000 security contractors from Afghanistan, who have been maintaining these planes to keep them in fly-away conditions. As a result, over time, a large part of the Afghan air force may face attrition and end up being grounded, unless this problem is assuredly resolved.
The Afghan air force possesses A-29 Super Tucano strike aircraft and AC-208 Combat Caravan planes. Both these propeller-driven planes can fire laser-guided bombs to ground targets, held by the Taliban, the Politico magazine is reporting.
Besides the US has supplied the Afghans with new Black Hawk helicopters. Since 2014, the US has dispatched 53 UH-60 Black Hawk choppers, after it forced the Afghans not to buy the Russian-made Mi-17 workhorse helicopters, following the deterioration of US-Russia ties.
The Taliban is well aware that Afghan airpower is key to victory, defeat or a draw. Consequently, the Pak-backed militant group is carrying out targeted assassinations of pilots, to dimmish the potency of the Afghan air force. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).