The U.S. Transportation Command (USTranscom) has awarded hundreds of millions of dollars worth of new contracts for companies providing helicopter support in Afghanistan. Recipients include AAR Airlift, $151 million; Columbia Helicopters, $87 million; Construction Helicopters, $33 million; and HNZ Group, $6 million.
War in Afghanistan
For a time in the 1970s and 1980s, Wisconsin Sen. William Proxmire gave out his Golden Fleece Awards. But they had nothing to do with Jason and Argonauts.
An inspector appointed by the U.S. Congress recommended that $772 million in contracts awarded by the Pentagon for 30 new aircraft to support an Afghan special aviation unit be suspended because the unit is unprepared.
ABC News reported June 9 that seven heavily armed Taliban fighters launched a pre-dawn raid on NATO’s Kabul Airport facilities, wounding two Afghan civilians. None of the seven guerrillas, all of whom were killed in the attack, managed to breach the airport perimeter.
In Afghanistan, soldiers still pull the trigger. Civilian contractors do almost everything else. While the U.S. and its allies may be preparing for a troop draw-down there next year, for the contractors flying an assortment of 50 helicopters in country, things have never been busier or better.
The problematic use of “drones” to prosecute the U.S. war on terror is very much in the news again. On February 7, during a hearing that was repeatedly interrupted by protesters, senators questioned John Brennan, President Obama’s CIA director-designate, about the administration’s heavy reliance on “targeted killings” by unmanned aircraft.
With UK operations in Afghanistan scheduled to draw to a close by the end of 2014, and with reduced budgets going forward, the Ministry of Defence is facing a number of tough challenges. Speaking yesterday here at Farnborough at the ADS Defence Conference, UK Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond defined those challenges into three broad areas.
We’ve been hearing about unmanned aircraft strikes on suspected terrorists in the tribal regions of Pakistan, in Afghanistan and lately in Somalia and Yemen, for years now. So it’s surprising that the U.S. government’s first official acknowledgement that it uses remotely piloted aircraft—drones, if you must—to take down terrorists came just one week ago.
Kaman Helicopters’ K-Max “unmanned aerial truck” has delivered nearly 200,000 pounds of cargo since the helicopter entered service in Afghanistan with the U.S. Marine Corps on December 17. To date, two of the pilotless, heavy-lift helicopters have logged about 100 hours in the skies over Afghanistan on cargo missions.
Training is just getting under way of the first military fixed-wing pilots to be taught to fly in Afghanistan since the early 1990s. The initiation of the first course follows the delivery of three Cessna 182T basic trainers in September, and three Cessna 208B Caravans for advanced instruction on October 22.
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