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Afghan UH-60 Black Hawks will be mission-ready this summer

Afghan Air Force 2nd Lt. Shahpur Pazhman,  22,  is the youngest pilot going through UH-60 Black Hawk Mission Qualification Training,  the final course before he is ready to head to the battlefield in May.

KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – The Afghan Air Force is expected to start flying missions with its new fleet of UH-60 Black Hawks before summer sets in.

Building the UH-60 program is a crucial part of Resolute Support's plan to make a professional, capable, and sustainable Afghan Air Force. It all started in September, 2017 with the arrival of the first four UH-60 helicopters. That fleet has since expanded to 11, and will eventually grow to 159. Those aircraft will be divided between the Afghan Air Force and the Special Mission Wing, which supports Commando ground operations.

"A tidal wave of Afghan airpower is on the horizon," said General John Nicholson, Resolute Support commander, when the first Black Hawks arrived in 2017. "The momentum has shifted, and it is irreversible."

The first pilots graduated in November from the UH-60 Aircraft Qualification Training, completing the initial training phase. In May, they will be mission-ready after they graduate from the follow-on Mission Qualification Training.

"We are doing our best right now, so I think everyone, all of the pilots who will qualify will be ready for the mission," said 2nd Lt. Shahpur Pazhman. Pazhman, 22, is the youngest pilot going through MQT. "When we joined the Afghan Air Force, on the first day we took the oath to serve our country and we are standing by our word," added Pazhman.

Sixteen pilots are expected to graduate along with an equal number of special mission operators, the enlisted crew that works in the back of the helicopter. Once Afghans graduate and become mission-ready, all their Black Hawk combat missions will be flown and led by Afghans.

Story by Resolute Support Mission Public Affairs Office

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