USAF's disposal of 16 unused transport planes as scrap in Kabul raises questions

news
11 October 2014

The US Air Force has disposed off 16 unused transport planes stationed at the Kabul International Airport as scrap, Bloomberg reported. The scrap went for 6 cents a pound, or $32,000, according to a government watchdog.

The USAF had acquired 20 refurbished Italian-made G222 twin-turboprop aircraft for Afghanistan's air force, at a price of $486 million but had to abandon them, citing persistent maintenance issues.

''I am concerned that the officials responsible for planning and executing the scrapping of the planes may not have considered other possible alternatives in order to salvage taxpayer dollars,'' John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said in a letter released yesterday.

He said in a letter dated 3 October to Air Force secretary Deborah James that he was opening an inquiry and called for documents related to the acquisition to the planes being ''towed to the far side of the airport and scrapped by the Defense Logistics Agency.''

According to Sopko, and Afghan construction company paid for the scrap. He wrote four additional G222s were at Ramstein Air Base in Germany awaiting disposal.

Bloomberg News reported in December that the refurbished G222s from Rome-based Finmeccanica SpA (FNC)'s Alenia Aermacchi North America unit were not capable of being flown after logging 200 of 4,500 hours of US-led training flights and missions required from January to September 2012 under a US Air Force contract.

Meanwhile, Sopko, has asked James to document all decisions made about the destruction of the 16 C-27A aircraft that were stored at Kabul International Airport for years, and what were the service's plans for four additional planes now in Germany Reuters reported.

"I am concerned that the officials responsible for planning and executing the scrapping of the planes may not have considered other possible alternatives in order to salvage taxpayer dollars" Sopko said in a letter to James dated 3 October and released Thursday by his office.

He also asked whether other parts of the planes had been sold before the Defense Logistics Agency destroyed the planes.

Sopko's office had been investigating the matter since December 2013 after numerous non-profit groups and military officials questioned the funds wasted on the planes.

In an interview last year with NBC News, Sopko said whether the incident was criminal fraud or mismanagement was not known, but it was not an isolated incident in Afghanistan.





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