How Not to Build and Air Force – UPDATE

In August last year ‘Twecky’ wrote a fantastic post about the wasted billions on what proved to be a minimal capability for the Afghan ‘air force’.

Part of those billions spent were on a number of G222/C-27A tactical transport aircraft. The post detailed the cost and timeline, $600m from order to a decision to scrap in less than 4 years.

As a final close of the story, here is what is left

Afghan G222
Afghan G222

Scrapped at a cost of $32,000

Read more at Weapons Man and Flight Global

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ace Rimmer
October 16, 2014 7:28 am

Did they even bother stripping out the engines and avionics? It really makes me wince to see aircraft trashed like this, what a waste..

October 16, 2014 7:37 am

I wish the story wasn’t quite so grim

Unsurprisingly the replacement C130s (what were they thinking ??) are experiencing maintenance and spares issues. The US Special Inspector General wrote in July 2014

‘ Although the decision was made in January 2013 to purchase four C-130s, the AAF’s requirement for those aircraft had not been updated since March 2010. Second, we analyzed flight data for the two AAF C-130s currently in Afghanistan and found that they are being underutilized, which raises questions about whether additional aircraft are truly needed. Lastly, during my visit last month, I was informed about support problems associated with training, spare parts, and maintenance for the two C-130s currently in the inventory.’

If there is good news the long awaited Super Tucanos are on their way but training won’t start in AFG until 2015

So that’s OK then. After 10 years we haven’t managed to leave behind much of an ISR, AT or strike capability; or even worked out what was really needed !

Ace Rimmer
October 16, 2014 9:54 am

I wonder how they would’ve faired if they’d have just bought additional An-26/32’s on the open market? Would we still have had the same serviceability issues?

October 17, 2014 11:48 am

I do wonder if they’d have been better building really from the ground up, i.e. build flying clubs, and try to get the people interested first. Fundamentally the problem is that Afghanistan hasn’t really produced pilots indigenously for donkeys years. Going really back to basics might make some sense – buy some of the Pakistani PAC Mushshaks! They are pretty basic, so easy to maintain (even a car mechanic could be trained up), easy to fly, and carry a respectable load.

Part of the problem is that we’ve been giving them pretty high-spec kit, and they just don’t have the ability to use it. They hadn’t had an air force for so long, and yet they were given loads of random kit that they didn’t know how to use! The G-222/C-27 deal was a disaster waiting to happen, and same with the C-130s. In the long run, they’d be better with simpler kit, that they have a chance of keeping operational! I would look to emulate the Rhodesian Air Force – small professional force, using rugged and easily maintained kit. No more visions of them being like a western Air Force, and just accept they will probably not go beyond a pure COIN force for at least another decade!

Ace Rimmer
October 17, 2014 12:28 pm

Well said Ed,

It surprising to think that they actually also produced an astronaut, accepted that this may have been a political gesture by the Soviets at the time, but its still a demonstration of what they can achieve if given the opportunity. Unfortunately they never seem to be in a position to achieve a couple of decades of peace and stability, if you can’t even provide a successful basic education system, what chance have you got with anything else. Pessimism seems to be the order of the day…

October 18, 2014 11:25 am

This was a full spinning bow-tie extravaganza!

The Afghans already operated the AN-32 a type designed for hot and high operations, rugged and simple to maintain. The Afghans liked the type, had only recently taken delivery of a refurbished example paid for by the USN and stated they didn’t want to retire it.

So the US force them to adopt an elderly transport being retired by its primary operator, totally alien to ANA logistics and support personnel with no particular reputation for good hot and high performance. Even fully refurbished it required significantly more maintenance then the AN-26/32 fleet.

Of course the C-27A spent most of their life unserviceable but costing the US tax payer hundreds of millions of dollars.

So what do they do to rectify the problem?

Give the Afghans a type which is also elderly, has twice the amount of engines, even more complex and expensive to operate and is also utterly alien to ANA logistics and support personnel…

November 3, 2014 9:26 am

Its the stroy that just keeps giving….Just add another 80 mil or so….

Sept 26/14: MD Helicopters, Inc. in Mesa, AZ receives a $35.7 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for 12 more Afghan MD-530F primary trainer helicopters, bringing announced orders to 18.

Oct 1/14: Arm 17. MD Helicopters, Inc. in Mesa, AZ receives a maximum $44.2 million firm-fixed-price, unfinalized contract for the Afghan Air Force, to arm 17 of their MD-530F helicopters. They’ve already created that modification: the MD-530G

August 5, 2015 12:18 pm

it’s the story that keeps on keeping on giving

the running total is now 2.2Bn USD with a FURTHER 925M USD requested for FY 2015

As previously reported the solution to the tac airlifter question is 4 x C130H – the last of which was delivered in June

But the helicopter saga continues. eager readers will recall the Afghan Mi35s are reaching end of life, and the Super Tucano’s haven’t yet arrived, so the solution was to arm some of the remaining Mi17s and the MD530s. The MD530 contract is already under scrutiny due to bribes and sweeteners allegedly paid.

Now there is a new problem according to SIGAR :

The Mi-17 version 5 aircraft is designed to fire the Soviet-developed
S-8 rocket. TAAC-Air is currently procuring S-8 rockets through the foreign
military sales process. However, this procurement is subject to interference
due to potential Russian influence in Kazakhstan, the supplier of in-stock
rockets. If those rockets cannot be obtained, S-8 rockets would be purchased
from an allied European country.

Just stick it on my 2,2 BN USD tab, barman !

Blog Sunny IN Kabul summarises far more expressively than me:

Including this vid of Afghan Air Force Gunnery training from one of the MD 530Hs – precision strike, anyone ?