2. Previous Functions:
Afghan Air Force Commander AAF Commander (20130208, 20140610, 20151231, 20160507)
Major General Abdul Wahab Wardak hails from the Wardak Province. He is a stocky former MIG-21 fighter pilot under Soviet occupation in the 1980s. He harks back to the old days when the Afghan air force was a regional power to be reckoned with.
“To clarify the comparison of the air force we had in the past with now, I will give you this example,” he said. “Back then it was as if you were riding an armored vehicle. Today it is as if you are riding a bicycle.” Wardak’s office is in a large, U.S.-funded air force compound adjacent to Kabul’s international airport. Major General Abdul Wahab Wardak said that the A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft will start combat operations with the Afghan Air Force from the month of March 2016.
Gen. Wardak further added that the Afghan Air Force has so far received four of the eight aircraft from the United States and the remaining four will be handed over in the near future.
Operational aircraft currently in use by the AAF include 43 helicopters – mainly Russian Mi-17 transports plus six Mi-35 gunships. The air force also has fixed-wing transports including 16 Italian C-27s, but they were grounded for several months last year and are to be withdrawn from service.
“The U.S. has promised to give us four C-130s (large transporters), and also promised to give 20 AT-6 (light attack aircraft),” Wardak said. The U.S. Air Force (USAF) announced last year that it was reopening a contest for a contract to build 20 light attack aircraft for Afghanistan after the cancellation of an award to Brazil’s Embraer.
A final decision on the contract has not been announced, though the first planes were expected to be delivered in the second half of 2014.
The C-27 transporters, also known as G222s, were expected to serve as the AAF medium airlift aircraft for up to 10 years after the first one was delivered in 2009.