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Fledgling Afghan air force faces solo mission as US withdraws

Published on Jun 8, 2014 12:43 PM
 
A file picture taken on June 2, 2014 shows a US Army helicopter gunner watching over the Afghan countryside while flying between Kandahar Airfield and Forward Operating Base Pasab in Kandahar. Afghanistan's air force is already woefully short of planes and skilled pilots - and US plans to scale back supportive air strikes will leave it without crucial back-up as it battles a resilient Taleban. -- PHOTO: AFP

KABUL (AFP) - Afghanistan's air force is already woefully short of planes and skilled pilots - and US plans to scale back supportive air strikes will leave it without crucial back-up as it battles a resilient Taleban.

For the past 13 years a vast fleet of US fighter jets, attack helicopters, unmanned drones and transport aircraft have supported ground troops in operations against the insurgency.

But with the vast majority of the 51,000 foreign troops set to pull out by December, the fledgling Afghan Air Force (AAF) will have to make do without much of this help.

US officers say there is little doubt that air strikes by Apache helicopters or American warplanes will be less frequent from 2015, and that the conditions that trigger a raid will be stricter.

 
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