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Columbus stands up A-29 training unit at Moody

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Stephanie Englar
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
The 14th Flying Training Wing stood up the 81st Fighter Squadron Oct. 1 at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. The squadron will be responsible for using A-29 Super Tucanos to train 30 Afghan pilots and 90 Afghan maintainers over the next four years.

The 81st FS is a geographically-seperated unit assigned to the 14th Operations Group but stationed at Moody AFB.

"The A-29 unit was formally activated as the 81st Fighter Squadron Oct. 1," said Col. James Boster, 14th Operations Group Commander. "The unit will begin training a cadre of instructor pilots and maintainers in the A-29 this month, and in February 2015, the 81st FS will begin training the first class of Afghan pilots and maintainers."

The Afghan A-29 Light Air Support training mission will begin at Moody in February 2015. The pilots and maintainers are being trained as part of a requirement from the International Security Assistance Force which requires them to conduct training outside of Afghanistan. The A-29 Super Tucano will be replacing the current training aircraft, the Mi-35 attack helicopter will reach the end of its service life in January 2016.

"Specifically the mission that we are going to replace is the Mi-35 Helicopter, which is an attack helicopter, so they cover some of the same missions," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Hogan, Afghan A-29 Light Air Support training unit commander. "But really this aircraft is a monumental leap in capabilities for the Afghan Air Force. It will allow us to do some overlap of those [Mi-35] missions and will do a lot better; it will also expand some other missions, which they currently cannot execute."

In four years, after the training is completed, the A-29 Super Tucanos will be provided to the Afghan Air Force to provide offensive and defensive aerial fires capability and reconnaissance and surveillance capability within Afghanistan.

"The A-29 provides a great capability for the Afghan Air Force," Boster said. "It has the speed and range to reach all of Afghanistan and most importantly, the ability to provide fire power from the air. Ultimately, this capability will be used by Afghan pilots to support Afghanistan's own troops on the ground."

The 14th Flying Training Wing currently trains pilots from many foreign countries around the globe, and has done so for many years.

"Working with our international partners has many benefits beyond just the training provided," Boster said. "It provides opportunities to learn the culture and customs of other nations and opportunities to build relationships. These relationships are important as we often fight side by side with our international partners in today's conflicts."