Afghan C-130 Program Stabilized, Pending Requirements Review

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko sought information from the Defense Department last summer, when one of his office’s reports criticized the utilization rates of the Afghan air force’s small C-130H fleet and raised questions about its supportability and lack of updated requirements. On Tuesday, Sopko told reporters in Washington, D.C., he never questioned the performance of the fleet. Instead, he was concerned about its size and sustainability by the Afghans since the United States is shrinking its support footprint in the country. “Our questions were, again, ‘Can they sustain it? And why are you purchasing more?’” he explained. At the time, the Air Force had planned on delivering a third and fourth C-130 to the AAF, despite low utilization rates of the existing aircraft. Sopko said, to the Air Force’s credit, the service reviewed the program and determined a fourth aircraft would not be purchased until a requirements review was complete, but would deliver a third C-130 in order to ensure one operational aircraft at all times. Sopko said he recognized the risk to aircraft availability in having just a two-aircraft fleet. (For more of our Sopko coverage, read Afghan Air Force Procurements Under Scrutiny.)