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Tools in place for Afghan helicopter training mission
Maintenance personnel fuel MD 530F helicopters prior to acceptance flights at Shindand, Afghanistan, Dec. 7, 2011. (Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Isaac Garden)
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Tools in place for Afghan helicopter pilot training mission

Posted 12/13/2011   Updated 12/14/2011 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Larlee
438th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

12/13/2011 - KABUL, Afghanistan  -- Flight instructors at Shindand Air Base have completed acceptance flights on six MD 530F helicopters that will be used to train Afghan pilots.

Each helicopter was flown in the local air space for one hour and all aircraft systems were checked, including radios, Global Positioning System, navigation systems, rotor tracking and overall airworthiness.

Classes are scheduled to start in early 2012.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jeffery Bouma is the team chief for the MD 530F training program. He said the helicopter is a good fit for the training mission.

"The MD 530F is a very agile and forgiving helicopter," he said. "It's the perfect platform for initial rotor wing flight training in Afghanistan."

The colonel said the helicopter performs well in high temperatures and high altitudes, both of which are offered in abundance in Afghanistan. The instrument panel is streamlined and contains only the essential aircraft instrumentation and navigation systems. This more simple configuration is a better fit for student pilots.

Bouma said the helicopters were up and operational two weeks ahead of schedule.

"This has been an incredibly rewarding experience," said Bouma. "The fielding of the MD 530F, from production in Arizona to delivery in Afghanistan, took less than 10 months. It is a testament to the entire team of professionals who made this program a reality."

Now that the equipment is in place, Bouma is excited to start training his new students.

"I look forward to training our first Afghan officers in the MD 530F," Bouma said. "I am very confident that this is the right airframe to support this training program. We also have the requisite amount of maintenance professionals to keep our fleet fully mission capable."

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