A contingent of 20 A-29B Super Tucano aircraft may arrive at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., as early as September to train Afghan Air Force pilots. (Courtesy Lt. Col. Jonas Reynoso)
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Afghan Air Force pilots will head to Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, to train on new A-29 Super Tucano close air support aircraft, the Air Force has announced.
The South Georgia base was selected as the preferred alternative for the training and the contingent of 20 aircraft after an evaluation of the base’s operational and infrastructure requirements. Now the Air Force must do an environmental analysis before a final decision is made.
“Moody AFB was selected as the preferred alternative because the airfield and airspace are available without disruption during the required timeframe, and suitable facilities are immediately available for the new occupants to move into,” Timothy Bridges, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, said in a release Wednesday. “Moody AFB is the lowest cost option.”
The aircraft may arrive to Moody as early as September, with the first trainees expected to arrive in February. Training is expected to last through 2018.
Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, and Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, were also considered for the training role and remain alternatives while the decision is being finalized.
The A-29 was selected as the close air support platform for the Afghan Air Force last year, with the announcement of a first contract worth $427 million for contractors Sierra Nevada Corp. and Brazil’s Embraer, which beat out competitor Beechcraft.
The announcement came with praise from Georgia’s lawmakers, with Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson saying the mission is crucial to stabilization in Afghanistan and “Moody Air Force Base is the best choice to host it.”
“I can think of few better missions for Moody Air Force Base than to assist these men and women as they prepare to defend their new democracy through the A-29 (light air support) program,” Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss said in a statement. “These are the best and brightest Afghans who, under the supervision and guidance of our Air Force instructor pilots at Moody, will be able to take their skills back to Afghanistan and build upon the foundation the United States has laid.”
Moody is already home to A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and rescue aircraft, including HH-60Gs and C-130s.