HomeNewsArticle Display

First A-29 Afghan pilots graduate, ready for combat

An Afghan air force pilot salutes during the playing of the Afghan national anthem at the graduation of the first 81st Fighter Squadron’s student pilot class Dec. 18, 2015, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 81st FS graduated eight Afghan air force students trained as combat ready attack pilots on the A-29 Super Tucano. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ceaira Tinsley)

An Afghan air force pilot salutes during the playing of the Afghan national anthem at the graduation of the first 81st Fighter Squadron’s student pilot class Dec. 18, 2015, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 81st FS graduated eight Afghan air force students trained as combat ready attack pilots on the A-29 Super Tucano. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ceaira Tinsley)

Col. John Nichols, the 14th Flying Training Wing commander, speaks during the graduation of the first 81st Fighter Squadron’s student pilot class Dec. 18, 2015, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The Afghan air force pilots began their classroom training in February 2015 and launched on their first A-29 Super Tucano training sorties in March 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ceaira Tinsley)

Col. John Nichols, the 14th Flying Training Wing commander, speaks during the graduation of the first 81st Fighter Squadron’s student pilot class Dec. 18, 2015, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The Afghan air force pilots began their classroom training in February 2015 and launched on their first A-29 Super Tucano training sorties in March 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ceaira Tinsley)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFNS) -- A new era for the Afghan air force began Dec. 18, when the 81st Fighter Squadron graduated the first class of A-29 Super Tucano combat-ready attack pilots at Moody Air Force Base.

"The extraordinary dedication of these pilots and the sacrifices these graduates have made will help establish a secure, stable and unified country," said Col. John Nichols, the 14th Flying Training Wing commander. "They are enabling the future of Afghanistan, a future that will be decided by the Afghans themselves."

Even though the 81st FS was reactivated in January 2015, the students began their classroom training in February and launched on their first A-29 training sorties in March.

"I stood on this stage 11 months ago to reactivate this perilous squadron," Nichols said. "We had three planes, a handful of motivated Airmen and no students. Now less than a year later, we are graduating our first class."

According to Nichols, this graduation is the first step in fulfilling the requirement from the International Security Assistance Force to conduct training outside of Afghanistan. These pilots are the first of 30 who will be trained by the 81st FS over the next three years.

"We are here this morning to graduate eight Afghan patriots who will execute a vitally important mission," Nichols added. "That mission, simply stated, is to help build the future of Afghanistan. This graduation marks the first step in this monumental undertaking."

After about 337 training days, the pilots are ready just in time as the Afghan air force's current light air support aircraft, the Mi-35 attack helicopter, reaches the end of its service life in January 2016.

"I'm just so proud of the Afghan pilots and even prouder of the instructors who were able to make them fighter pilots in less than a year," said Maj. Gen. James Hecker, the 19th Air Force commander. "(Pilot training takes) two to three years depending on which aircraft they are going to but they had to push it up because they need to get over there and get in the fight.

"When they get back there, we know that there is an ongoing fight that is mainly U.S. led, as far as in the air," Hecker added. "Now they are going to be up in the air with us helping their Afghan soldiers who are on the ground."

Although the graduation marks the end of the Afghan students' training journey, the mission will continue through advisory support in Afghanistan.

"Today does not mark the end, but the beginning of our continued friendship between the 81st Fighter Squadron and the 355th Fighter Squadron," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Hogan, the 81st FS commander. "Please know that we are shoulder to shoulder with you and we look forward to many years of working together. Soon we will be flying together over the skies of your homeland. Shortly thereafter, you will be in combat defending your nation but most importantly, you will defend that soldier or commando on the ground."

As the ceremony came to a close, Nichols left the graduates with a few parting words.

"To those charged with securing the skies over Afghanistan, I congratulate you," Nichols said. "You have honored your country through your selfless actions, you have honored your families through your perseverance and the future of both will be better because of your dedication.

"You will now have a powerful vote in the governance of your country through the air arm of Afghanistan's defense forces," Nichols added. "We all want to improve the world for our family, our children, and our grandchildren ... it is clear to me that you are no different."

Engage

Twitter
RT @USAFCENT: The 609th Air Operations Center made history this week when it became the first AOC to operationally utilize the Kessel Run A…
Twitter
Airmen from the 34th Fighter Squadron prepare to launch F-35A Lightning lls at Mt. Home Air Force Base, Idaho, duri… https://t.co/t41oTbPGNq
Twitter
“The #AirForceReserve is a cost-effective, accessible and ready force,” said Lt Gen Richard Scobee. “We provide str… https://t.co/mrPt6Xq5Vn
Twitter
Here's a glimpse at the most recent Week in Photos! See the rest at: https://t.co/4L68vSVNfV https://t.co/vmIDDz5Gh6
Twitter
On this day, 76 years ago, the allied powers formally accepted Nazi Germany's surrender, marking the end of the WWI… https://t.co/A9LG3D5Y2s
Twitter
The Skyborg leadership team conducted a 2 hour and 10 minute flight test of the Skyborg autonomy core system, or AC… https://t.co/Gf1W4IIN0A
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: Airmen of the 152nd Airlift Wing's Medical Group teamed up with @NVNationalGuard Soldiers for joint aeromedical training…
Twitter
.@SecAFOfficial, @GenCQBrownJr & @SpaceForceCSO testified before the @AppropsDems' Defense Appropriations Subcommit… https://t.co/wC8CE7dSYR
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,347,179
Follow Us