ISAF’s support to the Afghan National Army Air Corps

As part of the international community’s contribution to the development of the Afghan National Security Forces, ISAF participates in training and equipping the Afghan National Army Air Corps (ANAAC). These efforts are made under the leadership of the US-led Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan (CSTC-A).

The ANAAC, upon reaching a fully operational status, will perform a wide range of mission types including critical air support to the Afghanistan National Army (ANA), medical evacuation, casualty evacuation, airlift, airborne command and control, training, and light attacks.

When directed by the Afghan Ministry of Defence, the ANAAC will also support the civil authorities of Afghanistan at all levels.

The ANAAC training and equipping

The ANAAC is currently being trained and mentored by the Air Corps Advisory Group which is part of the Combined Airpower Transition Force Afghanistan (CAPTF-A) at CSTC-A.

ISAF provides limited training to the ANAAC in conjunction with CAPTF-A, for example in the field of medical evacuation.

In addition, the ANAAC benefits from the ANA Equipment Donation Programme launched by NATO in summer 2006.

ransportation and installation costs for these donations are coordinated by the Allied Command Operations (ACO), in Mons, Belgium, under the NATO-led ANA Trust Fund.

The Directorate for Afghan National Army Training and Equipment (DATES), a joint operation between ISAF Headquarters and CSTC-A, coordinates the distribution of the donations once delivered in Afghanistan.

The evolution of the ANAAC

Until recently, the ANA was almost totally reliant on ISAF air assets in order to move its forces around the country. In early 2008, NATO allies flew 90 percent of the missions in support of the Afghans. Ten months later however, Afghans flew 90 percent of their own missions as a result of the development of the ANAAC.

On 16 June 2008, during the operation aimed at retaking the Arghandab district from Taliban control, the ANAAC was able to move 910 soldiers and 12.300 kilogrammes of cargo to the area of operation within less than 24 hours. All soldiers were flown back by 22 June 2008.

Since then, the ANAAC has carried out a number of missions, particularly as part of the ISAF’s Intra-Theatre Airlift System, which moves cargo and troops across Afghanistan.

In 2008 and 2009, the Czech Republic donated six M-17 and six Mi-24 under the ANA Equipment Donation Programme. As a result, the ANAAC now has the ability to escort its own helicopters with heavily armed attack helicopters.

The Afghan National Army Air Corps’ capacity is planned to grow until 2016, when it is supposed to reach full operational capability with some 7000 personnel and around 120 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft.