C-130s for Afghanistan Leave Auditors Scratching Their Heads
Why such big transports for such a little air force?
The Pentagon’s plan to give C-130s to the Afghan air force has perplexed U.S. government auditors.
The Defense Department wants to donate four of the four-engine transports. The Afghans already have two—and they can neither maintain them nor even find use for them, according to a report by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
SIGAR is a watchdog organization that Congress created to keep an eye on all the American money pouring into rebuilding war-torn Afghanistan.
The two C-130s already in Afghanistan have cost U.S. taxpayers $77 million, including $40 million for the first two Hercules, plus another $37 million for spare parts. Sending another pair of C-130s will add another $77 million to the bill.
SIGAR discovered that between October 2013 and May 2014, the Afghan air force flew its first two C-130s for just 261 hours, or 48 percent of the 555 hours the two transports could have flown. Not only were they not flying much, but they were also flying half-full.
“We found that the AAF is primarily using the aircraft to transport passengers and light cargo, both of which could be transported by other types of aircraft or ground vehicles,” SIGAR noted.
The problem began when the Afghans had trouble maintaining their smaller, twin-engine Italian-made G.222 transports. So naturally, despite warnings by its own investigators, the U.S. Air Force gave the Afghans the four-prop C-130s that are much larger … and even harder to keep flying.
So the aircraft spend a lot their time on the ground, and waste a lot of time when they do fly.
Sound familiar? U.S. allies receiving complex American equipment that they can’t maintain or operate. It happened in South Vietnam. It happened in Iraq. And now it’s happening in Afghanistan.
And then Washington wonders why the local armies perform so poorly in combat.