U.S. Wants to Build ‘Tsunami of Air Power’ in Afghanistan, But Impact is Years Away

U.S. Wants to Build ‘Tsunami of Air Power’ in Afghanistan, But Impact is Years Away by Pamela Constable – Washington Post

Just over one month ago, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan declared at a ceremony here that a new fleet of 159 Black Hawk helicopters, flown by Afghan pilots, would help create a “tsunami of air power” to turn around the stalemated conflict with Taliban insurgents.

But the UH-60s won’t have an impact for at least several years on an intense war that has already cost at least $700 billion since 2001 — and is showing no signs of letting up.

The versatile, hardy U.S. Army aircraft, each costing more than $7 million to refurbish and deliver, are intended to gradually replace the Afghan fleet of Soviet-era Mi-17 choppers to carry out military cargo drops, troop transport and medical evacuations. But they are already coming late to the game, a drawback aggravated by the slow pace of UH-60 deliveries, the limit of six Afghan pilots in each three-month training course, and the need to keep the Mi-17 choppers in action in the meantime.

President Trump’s new military strategy in Afghanistan has made beefing up the Afghan air force a top priority, and U.S. military officials said the Black Hawk program is being accelerated, amid the press of war and the broader agenda of building a professional air force….

Read on.

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