Six Afghan Air Force members became the first ever AAF UH-60 Black Hawk pilots, after graduation from Aircraft Qualification Training during a ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
Maj. Gen. Abdul Raziq Sherzai, Kandahar Air Wing commander. “In the past years, due to civil wars, our Air force capabilities reached to almost zero. Today we can see, that we are not far from standing on our own feet.”
This endeavor is part of a larger modernization program. The Afghan Air Force will more than double their fleet of aircraft over the next seven years. Plans include the introduction of AC-208 attack aircraft and UH-60 Black Hawk assault helicopters, along with additional A-29 attack aircraft and MD-530 attack helicopters, the USAF said in a statement Monday.
The first AAF Black Hawk pilots are experienced aviators coming from a Mi-17 background, making the transition from one rotary wing aircraft to another virtually seamless. The six graduates volunteered to be the first to make the shift.
For future Black Hawk pilots, the UH-60 flight training is approximately 16 weeks long, six weeks for Aircraft Qualification Training and 10 weeks for Mission Qualification Training.
The AAF is expecting to have four qualified crews by fighting season 2018, and 32 crews by fighting season 2019.
Fourteen UH-60 pilots will train at Fort Rucker, Ala., in 2018 with an additional 21 in 2019, and 25 in following years.
Individuals are selected for pilot training based on their qualifications and position vacancies. The two main individual qualifications include flight physicals and English language ability.
The transition of airframe for the AAF pilots will provide firepower and mobility, offensive factors enabling the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces to break the stalemate against insurgents.