MOODY AFB, Ga. --- Air Force officials announced today Moody Air Force Base will host a stateside mission to train Lebanon air force pilots and maintenance personnel on the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft.
This temporary program will fall under the 81st Fighter Squadron, an existing A-29 Light Air Support training squadron that currently trains Afghanistan air force personnel. This program will ensure the Lebanon air force receives the support and training it needs to safely and effectively employ the A-29 aircraft.
“The 81st Fighter Squadron enables our international partners to work with the United States to achieve strategic objectives,” said Lt Col Ryan Hill, 81st FS commander. “The light air support capability is critical to the Lebanon air force and when fully trained, these pilots and maintainers will provide an effective tool for the Lebanese National Security Forces to combat terrorism.”
A-29 training has been conducted at Moody for the Afghanistan air force since 2014. The new mission is anticipated to bring an additional 80 personnel to Moody, including Lebanese military, civilians and contractors required to support training on six new aircraft. The initial proposed commitment for this training mission projects a limited presence at the base through 2018.
The additional A-29 aircraft, procured by the Lebanese government, will fly alongside Afghan aircraft to total 14 aircraft from both countries during peak training in 2017. Under current plans, the aircraft may arrive at Moody AFB in early 2017 and the first Lebanese trainees are expected to begin training in February 2017.
“The A-29 is a relatively complex system,” said Hill. “Focused, dedicated pilot and maintenance training is imperative to ensure successful use by the forces operating and maintaining the aircraft. By receiving training in the United States, these students can develop critical skill sets without distractions or tasks outside of training.”
The program will train an initial cadre of Lebanese personnel to include 22 maintainers and 12 pilots, who will become instructors. After returning to Lebanon, they will in turn train additional personnel on this weapons system to conduct offensive and defensive fires operations and reconnaissance and surveillance operations throughout Lebanon to combat terrorism.
Mirroring the Afghan training, U.S. Air Force advisors will provide flying training to the student pilots. Maintenance training will be conducted by U.S. Air Force and contractor maintenance personnel, including aircraft maintainers, maintenance instructors, and ground training device instructors and operators.
"Moody AFB is again honored to be selected to host this important mission beginning early next year,” said Col. Thomas Kunkel, the 23rd Wing commander. “We look forward to supporting the Lebanese A-29 flying training mission and we appreciate the support of Team Moody and the local communities for embracing our growing missions as we continue to strengthen our allied air forces.”