U.S. to Destroy a Half-Billion Dollars’ Worth of Unused Aircraft in Afghanistan

Friday, December 13, 2013
G222s in Afghanistan (photo: Gopal Ratnam, Bloomberg)

The U.S. military has decided to scrap nearly half a billion dollars worth of aircraft purchased for Afghanistan’s air force because the planes couldn’t handle the climate, among other problems.


A total of 16 cargo planes, the G222 manufactured by Italy’s Finmeccanica, now sit at Kabul International Airport. They were flown only 200 of the 4,500 hours scheduled for flight training by Afghan pilots before the U.S. decided to shut them down.


The Obama administration spent $486 million to purchase the aircraft, which were supposed to comprise 15% of the Afghan Air Force.


“We need answers to this huge waste of U.S. taxpayer money,” John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction who is investigating the matter, said in an email to Bloomberg. “Who made the decision to purchase these planes, and why? We need to get to the bottom of this, and that’s why we’re opening this inquiry.”


A January 31 Pentagon Inspector General report, marked “For Official Use Only,” criticized NATO and U.S. training commands for “hav[ing] not effectively managed the program.”


Lieutenant General Charles Davis, the U.S. Air Force’s top military acquisition official, told Bloomberg: “Just about everything you can think of was wrong for it other than the airplane was built for the size of cargo and mission they needed.”


“Other than that, it didn’t really meet any of the requirements,” he added.


A key problem was that the planes couldn’t handle the heat and dust of Afghanistan’s environment, which caused numerous maintenance troubles and prevented them from flying.


Davis said the Air Force tried to sell the aircraft to another country, but couldn’t locate any buyers. So now they will be dismantled for parts.


The U.S. decided to replace the G222s with American-made C-130H transports for the Afghan Air Force to use. But the replacements won’t be available until 2016.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Planes Parked in Weeds in Kabul After $486 Million Spent (by Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg)

Notification of Special Project: Lessons Learned Review of the G222 (C-27A) Aircraft Program (Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction)

Fleet of Planes from $486 Million Program for Afghan Security Forces Scheduled to Be Destroyed (by Hanqing Chen, Daily Beast)

U.S.-Led Military Unit in Afghanistan Lost $230 Million in Spare Parts, Then Spent $138 Million for More (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 

U.S. Military Builds $34-Million High-Tech Operations Complex in Afghanistan…and Will Never Use It (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

U.S. Military to Shred Thousands of Million-Dollar Armored Vehicles in Afghanistan (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)         


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