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Monday, October 20, 2014

US spends almost half a billion for Afghan planes and then sells them for scrap

So far only 16 of 20 Italian-made military transport planes bought by the U.S. for the Afghan Air Force (AAF) at a cost of almost $500 million have been sold for scrap at about six cents a pound.



The US government is investigating why millions were spent in this wasteful program. The exact cost was $486 million. However, when maintenance costs are included, the total cost was $596 million before officials simply decided to park the planes. In March 2013, the entire fleet had to be grounded because of "sustained, serious performance, maintenance, and spare parts problems" according to John Sopko who is the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction(SIGAR) head. The planes were purchased in 2008.
 With 16 of the planes sitting unused at Kabul International Airport, officials decided to sell them for scrap. SIGAR was intending to inspect the aircraft as part of their investigation into the affair but found that the 16 planes had already been sold for scrap. Sopko noted: “It has come to my attention that the sixteen G222s at Kabul were recently towed to the far side of the airport and scrapped by the Defense Logistics Agency. I was also informed that an Afghan construction company paid approximately 6 cents a pound for the scrapped planes, which came to a total of $32,000. 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.” The remaining four G222s are parked at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.
Sopko is concerned that US officials did not consider other options before they allowed the destruction of the planes for scrap. SIGAR wants advance notice from the Department of Defense if it is decided to destroy the other four planes. This debacle is just one of many as most US troops are packing up to leave Afghanistan. Officials must decide what is to be left and what is worth packing up and shipping to the US or elsewhere often at considerable expense.
An article in April of this year calculates that the US military will leave $6 billion worth of "stuff" in Afghanistan when most leave the end of this year. Included in the equipment are 850 MRAPS vehicles that are Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected(MRAP). These will be given away to any allied country willing to pay shipping costs or sold for scrap in Afghanistan. Figures provided to Fox News show the Defense Logistics Agency(DLA) Disposition Services sold a total of 34.7 million pounds of vehicles and equipment as scrap to local Afghan vendors. In the past 12 months, DLA sold 387 million pounds of scrap providing $46.5 million to the US Treasury in return.

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