The Afghan National Self Defense Forces have moved toward an offensive mindset to counter gains by the Taliban, and are increasing close air support flights with their small A-29 fleet. Army Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, the deputy chief of staff for communication with the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, said in a Wednesday briefing from Kabul that four Super Tucanos reached initial operating capability in April, and are flying between two to four missions every week—and sometimes more—to support Afghan forces on the ground. The remaining four aircraft and their crews in the country are still being trained up and will likely enter service this month, Cleveland said. The aircraft are not yet employing precision-guided munitions, a capability that should come in the “coming months,” he said. The Afghan Air Force’s MD-350 Warrior attack helicopters are also flying regularly, contributing to operations in the Helmand province. (See also: Afghan Air Force on Right Path)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.