Super-Tucano turboprop aircraft in service with the Afghanistan Air Force dropped laser-guided bombs in the flight against Taliban.
“This was the first time that [Afghan] pilots employed guided live bombs utilizing the on-board Forward Looking Infrared system,” Maj. Nicholas Plante, a spokesman for Train, Advise and Assist Command-Air, said in a statement to Military Times.
In this exercise, the pilots shot off GBU-58s, which are 250-pound laser-guided bombs, alongside NATO advisors piloting the Super Tucanos. The weapons hit all targets, according to a Twitter post by Resolute Support on Jan. 4.
“The exercise included two Afghan Air Force A-29s with an Afghan pilot in the rear seat of each aircraft responsible for operating the Forward Looking Infrared system and the laser designator,” Plante said.
According to the spokesman, moving forward "all Afghan combat sorties" will be carried out independently of NATO advisers.
The Afghan Air Force’s A-29 has a mountable targeting pod under the plane’s engine that can provide laser guidance through both a self-lase and a buddy-lase, according to Plante.
Last week, the Afghan forces were equipped with 12 A-10 ‘Warthog’ ground attack aircraft and 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, to ramp up military operations against ‘Daesh’ militant group.