NATO to give ANSF 166 aircraft
Addressing a press conference in Kabul, the commander of the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) said the coalition would procure an additional 100 aircraft for the Afghan Air Force, which already had over 50 planes.
Without giving the planes' types, costs and delivery dates, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell said 21 new choppers worth $380m, scheduled to be handed over to Afghan forces in the coming year, were bought by the US and were being assembled. "One special aircraft used for special operations will also be provided to Afghan forces."
Currently, 120 Afghan pilots were under training outside Afghanistan, he said, adding five of them, including four women, were being trained in the US. "We have also inked an agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to train Afghan pilots."
Caldwell continued the first group of the trainee pilots, whose training was nearing completion, would return to Afghanistan next year.
The assistance comes after the defence ministry said the Afghan National Army (ANA) was facing a shortage of aircraft and heavy weaponry. According to the ministry spokesman, Zahir Azimi, ANA is currently equipped with 56 types of weapons, 140 types of vehicles and two types of planes.
Caldwell also told the press conference that ANA and the police did not have armoured vehicles two years ago. At the moment, they have 2,400 armoured vehicles, with 2,200 more to be delivered soon.
Greater attention would be paid to the capacity and strength of Afghan forces till 2014, he promised, saying 114,000 Afghan forces had been trained over the past two years and 80,000 more were still under training, filling the vacuum created by defections.
The commander said they were trying to mentor Afghan trainers so that they could train more forces in the future. The number of Afghan forces is set to reach 352,000, next year. Currently, the number of ANA stands at 175,000 and ANP at more than 140,000.
He said if the Afghan government agreed, they would extend the training mission beyond 2014.
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