IN FOCUS: World Air Forces 2013

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Conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria and between Israeli forces and Hamas militants grabbed the headlines in 2012, along with the major budget issues most militaries continue to face, and the outcomes and implications of presidential elections in the USA and China.

Although the USA and its NATO and other allies plan to end their combat involvement in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, Kabul still has a long way to go before taking full control of the nation. Its air force and Army Air Corps - which currently operate a combined total of 98 transport aircraft and combat helicopters - will also require more investment to be made in equipment terms if they are to be able to cope after the drawdown phase has concluded.

Time is tight, for example, if the US Air Force is to drive through a planned light air support acquisition of 20 armed turboprops for the Afghan air force. A programme should be launched in 2013, with an earlier selection of Embraer's EMB-314 Super Tucano having been abandoned.

usaf f-16s usaf

 USAF

The US Air Force's F-16 strike aircraft should perform their last offensive sorties over Afghanistan in late 2014, 
as the NATO-led assistance force passes control to Kabul

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