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Taliban claims Black Hawk helicopter also repaired as 70 aircraft left behind by US become operational

Military helicopters in northern Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh province, Afghanistan (Photo by Kawa Basharat/Xinhua/IANS)

The Defence Minister of Afghanistan claims that the country has repaired two more military helicopters – one Russian and one American. These include a Russian Mi-17 helicopter and an American UH60 Black Hawk chopper.

A tweet by the Afghan Ministry of Defence says: “As a result of continuous efforts of the technical team of the relevant forces of the Ministry of National Defence, two helicopters, one (Russian Mi-17 and the other American UH60 Black Hawk) helicopter, repaired and successfully conducted a test flight”.

Air Force Commander Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar Mohammadi has vowed to build and repair other damaged aircraft in the future. Afghanistan news agency Ariana News had reported in December 2022 that the country has been able to repair more than sixty helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

A report by Anadolu Agency in December 2022 said the Taliban repaired 70 military planes and helicopters damaged by American soldiers before leaving in 2021. It quoted the Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Inayatullah Khawarizmi as saying that the US aircraft were in use by the Afghan Air Force, adding that the Taliban did not have a single working aircraft when it took over power.

The mystery of how the Taliban repaired American equipment seems to lie in the Taliban’s persuasive power to call back nearly 40 pilots and technicians who had fled Afghanistan during the chaotic American withdrawal. These Afghans seem to be bringing back to life military planes which the Americans had convinced the world would never fly as these were too sophisticated and had been rendered useless.

In the midst of anxiety-filled uncertainty, Afghan pilots had flown nearly 50 aircraft to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in 2021 as Taliban fighters conquered province after province facing little resistance.

A report by the US Department of Defence (DoD), had said in mid-2022 that, “The DoD estimated that U.S.-funded equipment valued at $7.12 billion was in the inventory of the former Afghan government when it collapsed, much of which has since been seized by the Taliban. This included military aircraft, ground vehicles, weapons, and other military equipment”.

The report added that “the condition of these items was unknown, and the long-term operability of the vehicles was likely to deteriorate without U.S. contractor maintenance. The U.S. military removed or destroyed nearly all major equipment used by U.S. troops in Afghanistan throughout the drawdown period in 2021”.

However, the steady flow of news from Kabul seems to indicate the opposite.

The hi-tech military hardware that the US left behind in war-torn Afghanistan in the wake of its unplanned withdrawal has the neighbourhood in fear. Reports say that Afghan militant groups are already using US weapons in Pakistan against the local security forces.

Also Read: US to move Indo-Pacific aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to oversee Afghan withdrawal