On October 26, the US-based Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and its Brazilian partner Embraer Defense and Security announced in a press release that the US purchased 6 additional A-29 warplanes for the “Afghanistan Program”.
The A-29 is a light warplane that’s used by the Afghan Air Force as a Counter-insurgency (COIN) aircraft. The warplane is also used in aerial reconnaissance mission, and for training Afghan Air Force pilots.
The total Number of A-29 warplanes that have been bought by the US for the Afghanistan Program is now 26. However, only 12 are currently in service with the Afghan Air Force. Afghanistan received the last batch of four A-29s at the end of March. Meanwhile another seven warplanes are stationed at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia, US for pilot training. The warplanes will be handed over to the Afghan Air Force in the upcoming months, according to Afghan officials.
“We believe this decision demonstrates that the A-29 Super Tucano is the best aircraft for close air support operations, as well as the most proven, reliable and cost-effective solution for counterinsurgency and irregular warfare scenarios … We are honored to continue to support the US government in this critical mission,” said Jackson Schneider, president and CEO of Embraer Defense and Security.
The A-29 warplane has very limited ground-attack and close air support capabilities. However, the warplane is easy to fly and maintain, and its considered one of the cheapest warplanes to operate. One hour of flight on it costs only $1,000.
The Afghan Air Force also received dozens of US-made MD500 Defender light attack helicopters, and Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters within the framework of the US Afghanistan Program.