>> Afghanistan's fight against the Taliban is struggling to take off. One reason, its air force only has 130 aircraft, and it gets worse. There aren't even enough pilots to fly those planes.>> Normally we're supposed to fly three to four times a day but we carry out nine to ten flights most of the time.
Sometimes we fly from seven in the morning to six at night.>> With Taliban militants making strides and taking territory around the country, it's a weak link, and as Josh Smith explains, soldiers on the front lines are crying out for help from above.>> A lack of air support means that they have to make more dangerous trips along roads that are heavily mined, and vulnerable to Taliban ambushes.
When they're injured, it means that they have to wait days, or even a week, for any kind of medical evacuation. Doctors at military hospitals here say that that long evacuation wait time is one of the biggest reasons why there're so many deaths among security forces.>> To make up for international troops leaving, the US-led NATO coalition has given Afghanistan more advanced aircraft, but their special operations crews have taken experienced pilots away from other units, making the shortage worse.
>> The United States has provided many more advanced aircraft like the A29 attack aircraft and the C 130 cargo plane as well as a special operations helicopter wing. All of those units have taken pilots from the other units in the Afghan air force which has created a shortage among these kind of workhorse units that so many troops on the ground rely on.
>> Another key to the fight against the Taliban, morale. Experts say having Afghan air craft with Afghan pilots in the air gives troops a huge boost, although the day they can actually meet that demand is still a long way off.