The U.S. Air Force recognized the need to rebuild an Afghan Air Force (AAF) and provide it with a Light Air Support (LAS) aircraft suited to both that country’s operational environment and its limited financial, technical and human resources. The answer was the Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano. The A-29 first began operating in Afghanistan in 2016. Twelve aircraft have been delivered to the AAF and another six will be provided by 2018. Over the past eighteen months, the LAS have conducting hundreds of missions across the country including at high altitudes and in regions with extreme temperatures. The capabilities the A-29 provides has drawn the attention of other nations facing similar challenges from terrorist organizations as well as the need to surveil and secure long land borders. The U.S. government has agreed to sell six A-29s to Lebanon, which is dealing with a number of threats to its security. Recently, Nigeria’s request for twelve Super Tucano’s was approved. With its ability to operate from austere airfields and in a wide range of environmental conditions, the LAS is well suited to the border security mission. I have written about the contribution of the A-29 to the counter-insurgency and border security missions for RealClearDefense here.
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