In what might be a source of embarrassment for the U.S. government, the Taliban have allegedly gained access to the Black Hawk helicopters and are attempting to fly them. The video that was shared on Twitter by a Taliban supporter has not been verified yet, and no official statement has come from the Taliban.
As per recent reports, the U.S. and its allies have reportedly evacuated close to 100,000 people from Afghanistan. But the efforts have now been stymied by a severe threat of attack on the Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in Kabul. Many people who are eligible for the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) have been asked to stay away from the airport until they have been called for.
UPDATE: Bombers attacked Kabul airport shortly after our initial reporting. Dozens were killed. See our latest updates on the situation in Kabul here.
With days left for the August 31 deadline agreed between the Taliban and the US, the situation seems to be getting worse on the ground.
We had earlier reported that the Taliban had gained access to devices that would help when it comes to recognizing the locals that were allied with the previous government. Adding to the list of items left behind by the U.S. troops for Afghan forces are 167 fixed and rotary wing aircraft in perfectly flyable condition, The Drive reported.
33 among them are the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, one of which was taxiing, allegedly near the HKIA.
Powered by two General Electric turboshaft engines, the twin pilot Black Hawk helicopters can carry 11 troops and 2,640 pounds (1200 kg) of cargo internally. When armed, it can carry two M240 machines guns or GAU-19 Gatling guns, Hydra 70 unguided missiles, and four AGM-114 Hellfire laser-guided missiles.
The video above does not show that the occupied helicopter is armed.
According to a previous report, the U.S. military had supplied the Black Hawk to the Afghan military, not in their latest form but rather a refurbished version called the UH-60A+. The U.S. military uses UH-60M and UH-60V currently. The refurbished version still offers high maneuverability to the Taliban, if they manage to get the machines flying.
The U.S. military does not have any details of how many sophisticated weapons and hardware supplied to the Afghan forces have now been acquired by the Taliban. However, speaking to the press, spokesperson John Kirby said that the U.S. did not have any plans of retrieving them.