US Taxpayers Lose $500m on Idled Transport Planes in Afghanistan

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By Jerin Mathew | December 10, 2013 9:29 PM EST

A general view of the Air Force compound in Kabul. (Reuters)

Hundreds of millions of US taxpayers' dollars have been used to pay for broken-down and idled transport aeroplanes in Afghanistan.

According to Bloomberg, 16 G222 turboprop aircraft are languishing at Kabul airport, waiting to be destroyed without ever being delivered to the Afghan Air Force. The planes cost US taxpayers at least $486m (£297m, €354m).

The aerocraft from Finmeccanica SpA's (FNC) Alenia Aermacchi North America unit have logged only 200 of the required 4,500 hours of US-led training flights and missions because of frequent breakdowns.

The refurbished planes were supposed to be handed over to the Afghan Air Force to make up about a sixth of its fleet. However, six of the planes already have been cannibalised for spare parts.

John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, is investigating why the aircraft can not be used further, according to the news agency.

"We need answers to this huge waste of US taxpayer money," said Sopko.

"Who made the decision to purchase these planes, and why? We need to get to the bottom of this, and that's why we're opening this inquiry."

Sopko is already investigating the billions of dollars of wasted funds since the US troops entered Afghanistan, following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Maintenance Contract Not Renewed

The US Air Force was unhappy with the maintenance service of Alenia Aermacchi, and it did not renew a contract with the firm in March.

In his investigation, Sopko will review the decision to choose the Alenia aircraft and the spending on the contract as well as evaluate the measures taken to prevent such problems in future.

In its biannual reports to Congress on the status of Afghan military, the Pentagon initially noted that the G222s would be key to building the Afghan Air Force.

However, in its July report, the Pentagon said that the G222 aircraft are being removed from service.  

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