In 2011, the Super Tucano was declared the winner of the US Light Air Support contract competition over the Hawker Beechcraft AT-6B Texan II. The contract was cancelled in 2012 citing Hawker Beechcraft’s appeal when its proposal was disqualified during the procurement process, but rewon in 2013. Twenty of these light attack aircraft were purchased for the Afghan Air Force.The first four aircraft arrived in Afghanistan in January 2016, with a further four due before the end of 2016. A fleet of 20 A-29s will be in place by 2018, according to a senior U.S. defense official.
The first eight Afghan airmen were trained in the U.S. to form a new Afghan fighter squadron. Combat-ready Afghan A-29 pilots graduated from training at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, and returned to Afghanistan to represent the first of 30 pilots trained by the 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody AFB. The Pentagon purchased the Super Tucanos in a $427 million contract with Sierra Nevada Corp. and Embraer, with the aircraft produced at Embraer’s facility on the grounds of Jacksonville International Airport in Jacksonville, Florida.
The first four aircraft arrived at Hamid Karzai International Airport on January 15, 2016. In 2017, the Afghan Air Force conducted roughly 2,000 airstrike sorties, about 40 a week. The AAF had a record high in October with more than 80 missions in a single week. By March 2018, the AAF had 12 A-29s in service. On 22 March 2018, the Afghan Air Force deployed a GBU-58 Paveway II bomb from an A-29 Super Tucano in combat, marking the first time the Afghan military has dropped a laser-guided weapon against the Taliban.
The Embraer A-29 Super Tucano , also named ALX or EMB 314, is a Brazilian turboprop light attack aircraft designed and built by Embraer as a development of the Embraer EMB 312 Tucano. The A-29 Super Tucano carries a wide variety of weapons, including precision-guided munitions, and was designed to be a low-cost system operated in low-threat environments. In addition to its manufacture in Brazil, Embraer has set up a production line in the United States in conjunction with Sierra Nevada Corporation for the A-29’s many export customers.