While the Taliban officially launched their annual spring offensive this week pledging large-scale attacks, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) will for the first time in 15 years be able to deploy a light attack aircraft specifically designed for counterinsurgency operations in their fight against the insurgents.

The Afghan Air Force (AAF) will begin this year’s fighting season with eight new Embraer/Sierra Nevada Corporation A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft in its arsenal. The first four A-29 aircraft arrived at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on January 15. Four more planes were delivered in March.

No additional aircraft deliveries are expected this year.  Four more A-29 Tucanos are slated for delivery in 2017 and the remaining eight will be handed over to the AAF by the end of 2018, bringing up the total number of A-29 Tucanos to 20. The United States Air Force funded the aircraft with $427 million under its so-called Light Air Support program.

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Image courtesy of U.S. Air Force