U.S. Air Force scraps 16 cargo planes it bought for Afghanistan
US Air Force scraps 16 cargo planes it bought for $500million for Afghan army for just $32,000
- The fleet of C-27As were bought for Afghan forces and stored in Kabul
- Were allegedly taken apart to save money as forces withdraw
- Controversial move has prompted an investigation by John Spako
- Special inspector for reconstruction will ask why money wasn’t ‘salvaged’
- Pentagon considering what to do with last four planes stored in Germany
The US Air Force is facing an investigation over why it destroyed 16 cargo planes worth nearly $500million and turned them into $32,000 of scrap metal.
The fleet of 16 C-27As that were bought for the Afghan Army and stored in Kabul International Airport were taken apart to allegedly save costs as forces continue to withdraw from the country.
It has prompted an investigation by John Sopko, special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, who will question why there wasn’t an effort to ‘salvage’ taxpayers’ money.
He asked Air Force Secretary Deborah James to document all decisions made about the destruction of the aircraft.
‘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,’ he said.
Sopko also asked if any other parts of the planes had been sold before they were destroyed by the Defense Logistics Agency.
Sopko’s office has been investigating the matter since December 2013 after numerous non-profit groups and military officials raised questions about funds wasted on the planes.
The U.S. government spent $486 million to buy and refurbish 20 older C-27A airplanes from Alenia, a unit of Italy’s Finmeccanica SpA, but later canceled the program because a lack of spare parts was severely limiting their availability for military use.Base:
Instead, the Pentagon decided to buy four larger C-130 planes built by Lockheed Martin Corp to do the work.
Pentagon spokesman Major Brad Avots said the U.S. military decided to destroy the planes ‘to minimize impact on drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan,’ but would provide more information after a review.
Avots said the Pentagon and Air Force would consider various options for the remaining four planes, including possible sale to other parties.
‘Working in a wartime environment such as Afghanistan brings with it many challenges, and we continually seek to improve our processes,’ he said.
He said the U.S. military was also working to help Afghanistan ‘improve accountability and help instill sound financial management practices in daily operations while reducing the risk of fraud, waste and abuse.’
In an interview last year with NBC News, Sopko said it was unclear if the incident was criminal fraud or mismanagement, but the waste was not an isolated incident in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon’s inspector general has also investigated the issue, which the non-profit Project on Government Oversight calls ‘a shining example of the billions wasted in Afghanistan.’
In January 2013, the Pentagon’s inspector general office said the aircraft flew only 234 of the 4,500 required hours from January through September 2012. The office also said about $200 million were needed to buy spare parts for the planes.
Source: By REUTERS /dailymail.co.uk