Tag Archives: Airports

Marines caught on video. . . again

Thankfully, these Marines are just clowning around.  Only Ralph Nader would be upset about the possible safety issues.

NOTE:  If you see bored Marines doing this, count your blessings (and run).

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Ribbon-cutting signals the beginning. . . of the end?

After spending $18.1 million on a 56,000 square meter strategic airlift apron, 790 square meter passenger terminal, and 1,200 square meter cargo terminal, the U.S. Air Force can’t wait to. . . leave? 

That’s the essence of a recent NTM-A blog, South District turns over Shindand strategic airlift apron, cargo and passenger terminals.  The Shindand Air Base Commander, Col. John Hokaj stated at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, “This facility will play an important role as the coalition begins to move equipment and personnel out of theater.”

The good news is that without those ostentatious C-17’s hogging all the ramp space, the Afghan Air Force will be able to park their entire fleet of C-208B’s, Cessna 182T’s,  C-27’s, and Mi-17’s in one place (if they can get them across the airfield). 

Recalling a previous post, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finished a separate aircraft apron several months ago; a 112,000 square meter  apron at at the same location.  From reports (a retracted post at www.NTM-A.com and a USACE press release) one would think that all these projects directly support the AAF.  According to Lt. Col. Michael Kinslow, the 838th AEAG Deputy Commander, “This apron marks a significant milestone in the expansion of Shindand Air Base as it grows to become Afghanistan’s premier training base for the Afghan Air Force.”  However, both of these projects were built for U.S. aircraft (18 UH-60 Blackhawks, 14 CH-47 Chinooks, 10 AH-64 Apache helicopters, and three C-17’s–not a single one used by the AAF) and are located on the opposite side of the airfield from the Afghan Air Force facilities. 

Who’s kidding who?  Shindand is the only training base for the AAF and none of these improvements were designed to support anything other than Coalition Forces!

The once and future Afghan Air Force, Part III

More lawn darts recently arrived at Shindand Air Base as announced on the NTM-A Blog:  Afghan Air Force receives first of six new Cessna 208B’s.

ISAF photo

 To quote a former AAF advisor: 

The US pilot said that flying with the Afghans is like flying with 5 year-olds.  They get mad and just quit or they walk-off or just don’t show up some days for training, etc.  . . . Every time he flies, he worries it’s his last day. . . 

These new aircraft will undoubtedly join the constellation of stones placed firmly in the setting that is Shindand–the ‘crown jewel’ of Afghan Air Force.

The once and future Afghan Air Force, Part II

A new apron has been completed at Shindand Air Base, the training hub for the Afghan Air Force (AAF).   Other than providing another great photo of the Soviet-built AAF aircraft graveyard, the article adds some confusion to the Shindand picture. 

The Soviet lawn-darts at Shindand: The "Crown Jewel" of the Soviet-built AAF.

Shindand Air Base is divided into east and west sides, the west side being the AAF side and the East side being the Coalition (predominantly US) side of the base. 

Clarity through the haze at Shindand Air Base

According the the NTM-A blog’s post, “New rotary wing apron helps make Shindand the “crown jewel” of the Afghan Air Force,” “The apron, approximately 112,000 [square] meters in size, has the ability to park 18 UH-60 Blackhawks, 14 CH-47 Chinooks and 10 AH-64 Apache helicopters. The apron will be used as a staging and servicing area for units belonging to Task Force Spearhead which also operates out of Shindand.”

The AAF doesn’t have any Blackhawks, Chinooks, or Apaches and Task Force Spearhead a unit of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade of the U.S. Army’s 1st Cavalry Division.  In addition to being on the coalition side of the airfield, the apron is also inaccessible to the newly arrived (fixed-wing) aircraft.  So it is tough to see how this will be of any immediate benefit to the AAF.  

Bottom line:  The new apron may be the crown jewel of U.S. aviation at Shindand, but until the AAF can park their lawn darts on it, it won’t be much use to them.

The once and future Afghan Air Force

NTM-A is not only building an Army and Police force for Afghanistan but also an Afghan Air Force (AAF).  Currently, the majority of students are sent to the U.S. for training as there is no indigenous training capability in Afghanistan. 

Last month, a milestone was reached:  the first 3 Cessna 182’s arrived at the AAF’s training wing at Shindand.  Ultimately, the AAF is to grow to 140 aircraft comprised of Mi-17s, Mi-35s, and C-27s (2 helicopter airframes and a “baby” C-130).  This, however, will not be the first air force in Afghanistan’s history.

The remnants of the Soviet-built AAF litter the Shindand Air Base

 The Soviets also attempted to create  an Air Force when they were here between 1979 and 1989.  I’m just hoping the U.S.-built AAF doesn’t end up like the Soviet-built AAF.

These hulks are a reminder to Afghan Air Force trainees at Shindand Air Base that any landing you can walk away from is “Afghan Good Enough”

Senator’s first tour in a combat zone verified

Unfortunately, it wasn’t Viet Nam as Senator Richard Blumenthal has stated several times in his public life. 

How can you tell when a politician is lying?

Instead, Sentator Blumenthal’s first tour in a combat zone was his boondoggle to Pakistan and Afghanistan this week (it is his first trip as Senator, not sure if he ever tried the political gesture before).

Prior to a flight from North KAIA in Kabul, I was attending a meeting at the ISAF Joint Command (IJC) on the same base.  Just before entering the IJC compound, a friend and I positively identified Senator Blumenthal exiting the compound.  While we were certain this was the Senator (the size of the entourage was one give away), his visit to the theater was confirmed by a quick online search.  The trip will undoubtedly prove beneficial when, like every other politician, he uses the trip to trumpet his concern for the troops and expertise in foreign affairs.

Whether this actually qualifies as a combat tour is still under debate.  In one of his first acts as president in 2009, President Obama officially renamed the “Global War on Terror” the “Overseas Contingency Operation.”

Security

Getting through airports for flights around the country is pretty much like flying anywhere else, with a twist.  After check-in, you proceed through security.  This process starts by removing your body armor, ammunition, and weapons, placing them through the x-ray machine and then walking through the metal detector.  After you succeed at getting through the metal detector, you don your body armor, pick-up your bullets and weapons, and board the plane!