The US forces in Afghanistan have redeployed a squadron of 12 A-10 ‘Warthog’ ground attack aircraft, to ramp up military operations against ‘Daesh’ militant group.
The Warthogs, armed with a 30 mm cannon and known for their ability to fly low and slow, can provide air support while undertaking counterterrorism missions and targeting Taliban narcotics production facilities, the US military said in a statement on Tuesday.
The military also said that it is deploying MQ-9 Reaper drones to provide armed overwatch and reconnaissance of the battlefield, as well as HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters for personnel recovery and combat search and rescue
The newly arrived A-10s flew their first combat missions in Afghanistan less than 24 hours after arriving at Kandahar Airfield on Friday, January 19. The jets are from the 303d Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.
A major rise in the number of airstrikes against militant targets in the country have been witnessed last year, beginning shortly after US President Donald Trump took office a year ago. In August, Trump announced that he would give commanders greater strike authorities as part of his strategy for the region.
The "number of weapons released" in US air strikes in Afghanistan in 2017 was 4,361, according to US Air Force data, compared with 1,337 the previous year.
The increase in air strikes has led to concerns over civilian casualties, particularly after the United Nations reported a spike in deaths caused by air strikes last year.