The first of 20 C-27A aircraft being refurbished for the Afghan National Army Air Corps has undergone its initial test flight.

The C-27A, a rugged, twin-engined turboprop aircraft with short take-off and landing capability, can carry up to 23,600lb of cargo and fuel, and operate on unimproved airfields as short as 3,000ft.

The C-27A is an adverse-weather, day and night transport that can carry 44 personnel, and 32 paratroopers or 36 litter patients along with a three-person crew.

The air force currently operates seven refurbished Soviet-era fixed-wing aircraft that are familiar platforms to the aircrews and maintenance personnel.

The transition to the C-27A will need significant training, which is underway.

Over the past three months, 30 Afghan Antonov AN-26/32 pilots have been undergoing language training to be completed in 12 months.

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The Afghans will go through an eight-week instrument flight rules course after the language training to obtain an International Civil Aviation Organisation IFR certification.

Thereafter the students will undergo C-27A transition training.

The medium-sized tactical military transport will be delivered in September 2009 and will enter into service in November 2009.