Advisors Expanding Afghan Air Force Night Operations

As part of the NATO transition of combat operations to Afghan armed forces, advisors are training the Afghan air force in more sophisticated operations. At Shindand Air Base in western Afghanistan, advisors with the 444th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron have integrated nighttime operations into the flight training activities for Afghan airmen, according to a March 26 release. Each Afghan student now going through undergraduate pilot training must complete 17 hours of night vision goggle training during night flights in an MD-530 light helicopter, states the release. The Afghan pilots learn distance estimation, depth perception, and relative motion while using these devices. The Afghan helicopters now carry modifications to support the night flights, including radar altimeter upgrades, infrared position lights on the tail and fuselage, and IR search lights, states the release. The current class, with eight students, is the largest class yet—and only the third class overall—to go through the training at Shindand, according to the release. The training squadron operates six MD-530 helicopters. (Shindand report by Capt. Anastasia Wasem)