Taliban Now Control Left-Behind US Aircraft but None Are Flyable

It turns out that US troops demilitarized them before abandoning them.
Ameya Paleja
Demilitarized US aircraft at Kabul airportNatsecjeff/ Twitter

As the last U.S. military flight took off from the Hamid Karzai International Airport after a two-decade-long war, the Taliban now officially control the new state of Afghanistan. Recent videos began emerging of expensive equipment such as fixed-wing aircraft, armor vests, and even ammunition that the U.S. troops left behind at the airport that are now reportedly under the control of the Taliban. But a Pentagon press briefing confirmed that none of the aircraft left behind retain capacities of flight.

For the past two weeks, we have been covering news of how the Taliban is gaining control of sophisticated devices such as Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment (HIIDE) as the U.S. troops withdraw. There was an alleged report of the Taliban managing to get their hands on a very much flyable Black Hawk helicopter, even if its weapon systems seemed missing. Following this, there were major concerns about U.S. equipment in the region that could potentially fall into the Talibani hands. 

After the U.S. troops left, the soldiers of the Taliban special armed unit, Badri 313, were seen entering the hangars of the HKIA, donned in American gear, and seizing control of aircraft left behind. 


As the day progressed, more videos emerged of the helicopters lying at the airport.

As the Taliban units discovered on closer inspection, this equipment had been tampered with and not left in a flyable condition.

Holes were punctured into the aircraft to make them unsuitable for flight, while even land vehicles were inactivated. 

This video shared by pro-Taliban media shows the extent of inactivations done in greater detail. 

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As is now evident, the U.S. troops were much better prepared for the imminent take over at the HKIA and had identified which equipment would be left behind. They took action to ensure that the aircraft left behind could not be repurposed at least immediately.

As Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., head of U.S. Central Command confirmed to Washington Post later, the U.S. forces had "demilitarised 70 MRAPs (tactical vehicles), 27 Humvees and 73 aircraft," before their final flight. 

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