The first training rotation of a Mission Qualification Team, made up of 16 Afghan Air Force members, has graduated. The Afghanistan military is demonstrating its dedication to providing a peaceful, secure country for its citizens.
With the war in Afghanistan at 17 years, the Security Assistance Training Management Organization is taking another step in preparing the Afghan military forces to provide security for their own country.
This was the first MQT that U.S. military and government civilians have begun training through a partnership that teaches qualified Afghan pilots how to use the battle-proven UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. The MQT will complete 3-4 training rotations per year and has the ability to train 16 pilots and 16 crewmembers in each rotation.
The UH-60 Black Hawks will provide the Afghan Air Force and Special Mission Wing with additional capabilities, speed and range over the aging MI-17 currently used.
USASATMO is a partner in the success of Afghan security forces and will continue to partner with countries that wish to fight terrorism and provide a stable and peaceful world.
The three-month course includes not only instruction on how fly the aircraft, but also how to use it in combat operations. MEDEVAC, airlift, transportation and sling load operations are taught to the Afghan pilots. Luigi Dicarlo, director of Regional Security Assistance Command-Central, understands the importance of this training and believes knowing how to fly the aircraft is only the first step.
"We are also training the non-rated crewmembers that are needed in the cabin of the aircraft such as door gunners. Afghans, trained in a top-notch aircraft, to conduct air operations in Afghanistan is a force multiplier for the Afghan Air Force," Dicarlo said.
Afghan pilots chosen for this opportunity are carefully selected and must have received necessary training before flying one of the new Black Hawks.
Maj. Nathan Stockton, security assistance training manager, said "the pilots have been selected based on prior flight experience coming through the Afghan MI-17 program; flight training at Fort Rucker, Alabama; and other contractor provided Initial Entry Rotary Wing training programs."
Although the Afghan Air Force so far has only agreed to one year of training, USASATMO expects this to be a 4-5 year partnership in order to ensure there are enough trained pilots and crewmembers to operate all 163 aircraft Afghanistan will receive from the United States. So far 10 aircraft have been delivered to the Afghan Air Force, but 2-4 more will be received monthly.