March 24, 2002
Four A-10s ground attack aircraft have arrived in Afghanistan, and are based at Baghram airbase outside Kabul. Despite the availability of AH-60 helicopter gunships, the A-10s are needed for operations in high altitudes (over 10,000 feet.) The AH-60s are less maneuverable and carry less ammunition at the higher altitudes. The A-10s move faster and can't just hang there like an AH-60. But the A-10s carry a 30mm automatic cannon and carry smart and dumb bombs. Army transport helicopters (Chinooks and Black Hawks) are having a hard time operating at that altitude. The higher up you go, the thinner the air is and the less helicopters can lift. The Chinooks, of which there are only about 20, can do the work, but are slower and less maneuverable at the higher altitudes. The Black Hawks can only carry about four troops (instead of ten) at the higher altitudes. As a result, most of the work is done by the larger (and older) Chinooks. The larger marine helicopters are about as capable as the Chinooks, and more marine helicopters may be brought back to provide more helicopter capability.
The interim government, with money and technical assistance from Britain and the United States, has developed a plan to destroy drug production. Farmers will be offered cash for their crops, if they destroy them. If the farmers refuse, the government will go in and destroy the crop anyway. The money offered will be less than the farmer would have received from the drug dealers, but a bit more than if a regular food crop were being grown.