For the first time in fifty years, an Afghan Air Force officer graduated from the U.S. Air Force basic flight program. This was part of the Aviation Leadership Program or (ALP), which includes classroom work, including English language training, and flight school (which includes 167 flight and simulator hours). The ALP has been used for years to provide training for air force officers from countries that cannot normally afford this extensive schooling for their pilots. A total of 61 Afghan pilots are going through the ALP, and many will be flying the twenty C-27 twin engine transports Afghanistan will begin receiving later this year.
Up until now, the Afghan Air Force has been using pilots trained during the decades that Afghanistan was an ally of the Soviet Union. But these pilots are getting on in years. ALP students, in effect, receive a scholarship worth nearly half a million dollars for the ALP training (which includes housing, food, medical care, etc.). Since the 1950s, several thousand foreign pilots have attended the ALP.