Airmen of the 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group’s aircraft maintenance section at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, say the Afghan National Army Air Corps soldiers whom they are mentoring have come a long way in the past 20 months in their capacity to maintain the ANAAC’s Russian-built Mi-17 helicopters. When the USAF advisors first arrived, the ANAAC soldiers would work on the flightline wearing sandals, smoke as they cleaned their helicopters with fuel, and would misplace tools, explained TSgt. John Ellis, one of the maintenance advisors. But since then, 40 ANAAC maintainers have been trained in safety, aircraft marshaling, pre- and post-flight inspections, debriefings, aircraft cleaning, and tool accountability, placing them on a solid path toward self-sufficiency. The goal is to have 110 ANAAC maintainers in place at Kandahar by year’s end and eventually field a 362-man maintenance group there. (Kandahar report by TSgt. Oshawn Jefferson)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.