Afghan air force ascent slow, imperiling battle with Taliban




 
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January 25th, 2015  
News Manager
 

Topic: Afghan air force ascent slow, imperiling battle with Taliban


By Kay Johnson KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan's armed forces are so short of combat-ready aircraft that, late last year, they began fitting machine guns and rockets to Russian-made Mi-17 transport helicopters, dubbed "flying tractors", to bolster their air power. With new planes capable of engaging Taliban insurgents delayed by over two years, and NATO air missions backing up troops on the ground now at a minimum, the fledgling Afghan Air Force is scrambling to provide even basic support. Without air support they say they will struggle to defeat the enemy, especially now that tens of thousands of foreign troops supporting them have ended their mission. NATO is training and advising some 390 Afghan pilots, most with no tactical combat experience, and a limited number of planes and helicopters have been promised to bolster an air force of around 140 aircraft, mostly transport helicopters.




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