The Afghan National Army Air Force has deployed four Mi-17 helicopters to flood-ravaged Pakistan in a humanitarian support mission that was coordinated without US participation, Brig. Gen. Michael Boera, head of the Combined Air Power Transition Force, told reporters Wednesday. “They have progressed and are good enough that they can go out and do this,” said Boera while briefing US-based reporters via teleconference from his Kabul office. This is another demonstration of the Afghan air arm’s continuing maturation under CAPTF’s tutelage. About a week prior to this Mi-17 deployment, joint US-Afghan crews flying two Mi-17s rescued more than 2,000 Afghans over a two-day period. These civilians were trapped by flood waters in eastern Afghanistan. Boera also said Afghan airmen are prepping to support their country’s parliamentary elections in September. It will be the third time that they fly ballot boxes to remote regions. (Fore more, see Slow but Steady.)
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.