The recently selected A-29 Super Tucano is “tailor made” for the Afghan air force’s counterinsurgency mission, said Brig. Gen. Tim Ray, commanding general of NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan. The aircraft “is the most kinetic, most offensive aircraft” that the Afghans will have and “most importantly, it’s easy to sustain,” said Ray. He noted that the Super Tucano’s engine “is incredibly reliable and very simple.” Air Force officials last month sealed a $350 million contract with Sierra Nevada and its partner, Brazil’s Embraer, to deliver 20 Super Tucanos, along with associated training, maintenance, and support equipment, to the Afghans starting next year under the Light Air Support program. However, the contract is currently under a stop-work order pending the outcome of a federal suit filed by excluded LAS bidder Hawker Beechcraft. Shindand Air Base will host basic A-29 training; the Afghans have yet to announce the location of the follow-on, advanced LAS training. (Kabul report by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Fahey)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.