The U.S. military is giving the Afghan Air Force some much needed support: 159 Black Hawk helicopters to replace its aging fleet of Russian Mi-17 transport helicopters, according to Military Times. The first delivery, expected in 2019, is part of Afghanistan’s plan to double the size of its special forces and strengthen its air force.
The hope is that the newly acquired UH-60 Black Hawks will help the Afghan military break its current stalemate with the Taliban — which controls large swathes of the country — by providing much needed mobility and leverage for security forces. The plan has been in the works since 2016, and there are concerns that it may not come to fruition in time to be of significant help.
“We are in the midst of an insurgency where the enemy is getting tacit support from neighboring countries,” Ahmad Shah Katawazai, a defense liaison and security expert at the Afghan embassy in Washington, told Military Times. “Our security forces are under immense pressure as they are fighting each day, on several fronts, with more than 20 terrorist organizations.”
The new helos will nearly double the Afghan military’s current fleet of 78-Mi17s, but there are concerns that the 159 new aircraft will burden the local forces’ already-undermanned maintenance staff.
“Given that it takes substantial U.S. support to maintain the airframes that the Afghan Air Force has already, it doesn't seem feasible that they would be able to support that many Black Hawks without a significant contribution from NATO,” Dr. Matthew Archibald, an independent researcher and consultant on South Asian issues, told Military Times.
The Afghan military — like the U.S.-led coalition — has leaned heavily on airpower for troop transport and offensive operations. The latest estimates from the the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction show that roughly 18 of the Afghan Air Force’s Mi-17s are currently unusable — though the report notes that most of the issues with the old Russian helos are due to overuse.
In addition to the Black Hawks, Afghanistan will be getting a few fixed-wing aircraft — six A-29 fixed wing close attack aircraft and five armed AC-208s — as well as 30 MD-530 Cayuse Warrior ground attack helicopters.
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces control the monitor of their drone at their advanced position, during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in Nazlat Shahada, a district of Raqqa. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."