Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and Embraer Defense & Security have handed over the first A-29 Super Tucano light air support aircraft to the US Air Force (USAF) at the team’s facility in Jacksonville, Florida, US.

Around 20 A-29 Super Tucanos were ordered by the USAF along with ground training devices, pilot and maintenance training and logistic support under a $427.5m light air support (LAS) contract from the team in February 2013.

The LAS programme aims to help the Afghanistan Air Force (AAF) as it assumes increased responsibility for security and stability in Afghanistan with the redeployment of Nato forces.

Embraer Defense & Security president and chief executive officer Jackson Schneider said: "The Super Tucano is a robust and powerful turboprop aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of missions and, in more than ten years of operations, it has confirmed to be a cost-effective air-power solution for nations around the world.

"These characteristics, along with its well-proven combat record, make it highly reliable and the logical choice for the LAS mission."

"The aircraft would be used to train 30 Afghan pilots and 90 Afghan maintainers to create important air capability for Afghanistan."

US Air Force brigadier general Eric Fick said: "This delivery represents the birth of an important capability for Afghanistan, and we are very pleased Sierra Nevada Corporation and Embraer were able to deliver the aircraft on time to meet the start of Air Advisor Training at Moody Air Force Base."

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The aircraft would be used to train 30 Afghan pilots and 90 Afghan maintainers at Moody AFB as part of a requirement from the International Security Assistance Force to conduct training outside of Afghanistan.

Built by Embraer, the aircraft will be used for conducting advanced flight training, surveillance, close air support or ground troops and air interdiction missions.

Currently used by nine air forces in Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America, the aircraft has to date flown more than 230,000 flight hours and 31,000 combat hours.

Embraer has so far delivered more than 170 aircraft out of its 210 firm orders.

Image: The first A-29 Super Tucano aircraft at roll-out ceremony in Jacksonville, Florida, US. Photo: courtesy of Sierra Nevada Corporation.

Defence Technology