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Taliban air force faces critical survivability issues

5th July 2022 - 11:15 GMT | by Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo in Milan


A Taliban-operated helicopter performing a joint rescue mission on 24 June following a major earthquake in northeast Afghanistan. (Photo: Lukas Muller)

After the 2021 fall of Kabul and the ongoing Ukraine war, what are the current capabilities and size of the former Afghan Air Force?

In the years leading up to its undignified withdrawal in August 2021, the US escalated its substantial support to the Afghan Air Force (AAF), not only in terms of equipment but also for training and sustainment.

Indeed, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the US spent more than $8.5 billion since 2010 on developing the AAF and its Special Mission Wing (SMW).

In 2016, for instance, the DoD initiated a modernisation program to replace ageing Russian-produced Mi-17V-5 helicopters, which remained the backbone of the AAF helicopter fleet. According to a January 2022 SIGAR report,

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Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo


Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo

Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo is a freelance security and defense reporter based in Milan, Italy. She covers …

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