The South Vietnamese are currently in the middle of a rapid build-up of air-power. Their?
The South Vietnamese are currently in the middle of a rapid build-up of air-power. Their air force started 15 years ago with a few ramshackle World War Two transports. Now they have over 650 aircraft, and the Americans are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the Vietnamisation of the air war.
This rapid build-up has created some problems for the air force. Maintenance facilities, adequate to cope with the older aircraft, have to be modernised to cater for several squadrons of jet fighters.
A new, intensified training programme has been introduced to turn out the extra pilots and ground personnel necessary to keep the aircraft flying.
Many of the recruits go to the United States for part of their training. But it currently takes about two years to qualify a pilot for his first combat mission.
The big test of the South Vietnamese Air Force has yet to come. Will it be able to cope with the air war once the Americans complete their withdrawals ?
The Air Force will certainly have the equipment. And air chiefs are convinced that they'll have the men to carry on the war effort -- men like those in the 215th Vietnamese Helicopter Squadron, which American advisors claim is already as good as any of its U.S. counterparts.