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    Afghan Air Force needs modern equipment: Karimi

    KABUL CITY (PAN): The Chief of Army Staff Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi on Thursday said Afghan air force needed modern equipment to effectively deal with any foreign aggression.

    "Our strategy is a defensive one. We have no invasion plan against any country, therefore, our air force should be better equipped," Gen. Karimi told a press conference at an Afghan National Army (ANA) training centre in Pul-i-Charkhi area on the eastern outskirts of Kabul.

    Karimi said ANA troops had good equipment, but the air force had some problems. "The ANA should be further equipped to compete with armies in neighbouring and regional countries, not for the purpose of invasion, but for defending their soil."

    He hoped the international community would provide further support to the air force over next few years.

    The general rejected the assertion that ANA troops lacked good equipment. “This is a wrong impression,” he added.

    Also present on the occasion was Defence Ministry spokesman, Gen. Zahir Azimi, who said the process of establishing the air force started in 2006 and currently most of the focus was concentrated on it.

    He said 80 pilots were currently under training in the United Arabic Emirates (UAE) and another 33 in the United States. Of them, five are females.

    Azimi added 40 pilots, including three females, and 80 others crew members, were being trained at the Shindand Training Centre, where 50 more individuals would be sent for training until next Monday.

    The Czech Republic has agreed to send an engineering team to Afghanistan to fix 15 C-27 US and Italian-made planes that had been grounded.