Afghan Air Force Procurements Under Scrutiny

Multiple investigations for auditing purposes and to identify potential criminal violations are underway into US-handled aircraft procurements for the Afghan air force, John Sopko, special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, told reporters on Tuesday. The United States has the goal of building the AAF into a sustainable air arm. However, some of these efforts, such as the acquisition of 20 C-27A transports for the Afghans wound up being excessively wasteful, said Sopko during the press roundtable in Washington, D.C. The Air Force, for example, ended up selling the Afghan C-27s for scrap after there were extensive problems with the airplanes. “They didn’t fly and didn’t work,” said Sopko. His office, known as SIGAR, estimates that the total cost of the C-27 contract amounted to between $600 million and $800 million, although his auditors have not yet determined a full accounting of the costs. “We want to find out why [the purchase was made] and see if there are lessons learned,” he added. The planned acquisition of additional Mi-17 helicopters for the AAF was problematic as well, he said. That’s because the Afghans had difficulty flying and maintaining their existing Mi-17 fleet, and SIGAR saw no need to add new-build airframes to it, he said.