Afghan Air Force sells US-bought planes for scrap

Credit: Jamie Dupree

A special military investigator is asking the Defense Secretary for information on why the Afghan Air Force gave up 16 planes purchased by the United States, and sold them for six cents a pound in scrap metal.

At six cents a pound, that came to a total of $32,000 - the United States had paid $486 million to deliver 20 of the the G-222 planes to the Afghan Air Force.

" 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," said special investigator John Sopko in a letter to top defense officials.

Sopko, who has aggravated some inside the Pentagon with his efforts to expose waste related to U.S. reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, said he saw the planes "parked unused" at Kabul International Airport - here was a photo his staff took of his most recent visit to check the planes:

Credit: Jamie Dupree

Four of the planes evidently made their way to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, but Sopko says the 16 other planes "were recently towed to the far side of the airport and scrapped by the Defense Logistics Agency."

Sopko attached this photo to his letter:

Credit: Jamie Dupree

In a letter to the Defense Secretary and the Air Force Secretary, Sopko demanded more information on the G-222's and why they may have been crushed for scrap metal:

To assist our inquiry, please provide the following information:

+ All documentation, to include electronic communications, related to the decision-making process that led to the approval for scrapping the sixteen G222s.

+ Explain whether alternatives to scrapping the planes were considered and, if alternatives were considered, why they were not pursued, such as flying the planes out of Afghanistan to the United States, Europe or other country for sale?

+ Provide all contractual documentation related to the scrapping of the aircraft and identify any costs to the government related to scrapping the planes.

+ Provide all information concerning surveys or assessments conducted to determine the value of the planes before the sixteen planes were scrapped. Were any or all the aircraft airworthy?

+ Identify and explain any actions taken to pursue administrative remedies against the aircraft manufacturer or maintenance contractor and whether warranty claims were pursued. What efforts were made to return the aircraft to the manufacturer or to obtain a refund?

+ Identify the end use of the scrap metal sold to the Afghan company. Were any of the aircraft parts not scrapped (i.e. engines, tires, brass components)? If so, identify those parts and their disposition.

+ What plans does DOD have for the disposition of the four remaining planes located in Germany?