The United States military is getting rid of a fleet of cargo planes that the United States military supplied to the Afghan Air Force. The Defense Department spent $486 million for 20 G222 planes, and 16 of them were sold as scrap to an Afghan construction company for about $32,000. That’s six cents a pound!
The cargo planes were bought for the Afghan Air Force to compensate for its shortage of air-lifters to haul troops and equipment. In 2009, the Afghans began receiving the aircraft, but the program ended in March 2013 after the Afghans could not maintain the aircraft or find spare parts. The U.S. Air Force said it had spent a total of $596 million on the G222 program. Since the program cancellation, the 16 planes delivered to the Afghans had been parked on a tarmac at the Kabul International Airport and now they’ve been scrapped.
“It has come to my attention that the sixteen G222s at Kabul were recently towed to the far side of the airport and scrapped by the [U.S.] Defense Logistics Agency,” said Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko in letters to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Air Force Secretary Deborah James dated Oct. 3. He wrote: “I am concerned that the officials responsible for planning and executing the scrapping of the planes may not have considered other possible alternatives in order to salvage taxpayer dollars.”
Sopko brings up solid points on whether or not the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and other involved officials thoroughly explored all possibilities for handling the aircraft. Why weren’t the planes sold instead? Were there any efforts to go back to the manufacturer to return the aircraft for a refund?
There are still four planes left and being stored at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany. No plans for the remaining aircraft have been set, but the Pentagon may be considering looking for outside customers. Shouldn’t this have been seriously considered for the other planes, too?
The program was meant to help the Afghan military to keep the Taliban at bay when the U.S. pulls its troops out at the end of this year. Unfortunately, this can be looked at as an example of the U.S. and NATO’s efforts failing to set up a proper Afghan military.
What do you think of multimillion-dollar planes being scrapped for a mere $32,000?
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