The Defense Department’s Afghanistan inspector general recently issued criticism of the Afghan Air Force C-130 program, questioning the need for the aircraft in light of low utilization rates. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction John Sopko, in a report released this month, said the Afghan Air Force’s requirement for four C-130s has not been updated since early 2010, and his office has discovered the AAF’s existing two C-130s are being underutilized. During a June visit, Sopko said he also learned of “support problems associated with training, spare parts, and maintenance” for the C-130s. SIGAR reports that, from October 2013 to May 2014, the AAF C-130s flew 261 hours of a possible 555 hours, or 48 percent of capacity. NATC-A officials said the demand for lift will increase, but no official assessment has been conducted to update requirements, Sopko said. “Pending a review of the AAF’s medium airlift requirements … DOD [should] delay delivery of additional C-130s.” Congress has already taken action, and introduced language into the Fiscal 2015 appropriations bill acting on Sopko’s recommendation. The Senate Appropriations Committee, in its markup of the 2015 DOD spending bill, added a provision prohibiting funds to transfer “additional C-130 cargo aircraft” to the AAF, until DOD submits a review of Afghan requirements.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.