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Pentagon pays $100M for planes Afghans won’t use: watchdog

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Pentagon is spending more than $100 million to give cargo planes to the Afghan Air Force that may actually never be used, a top U.S. watchdog warned Wednesday.

A number of C-130s — large military cargo planes — are set to go to the Afghan military to aid them with transportation and emergency relief efforts. But the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said the Defense Department can't provide any evidence on why this particular type of plane was selected.

Plus, a U.S. Air Force specialist team that visited the country said that the planes are likely too large and too complex for the Afghans to operate. They identified five planes within the nation — including two C-130s — that are already barely being used by the local military personnel.

The planes are so expensive that stopping delivery of just one could save taxpayers $40.5 million, SIGAR said.

SIGAR chief John Sopko said the Pentagon should delay delivery of the planes until the Afghans are able to sort out the training, spare parts and maintenance problems they are having with the aircraft already sent.

"The opportunity exists with the C-130s to ensure that the Afghans are capable of supporting what we have already given them before providing additional aircraft," he said.

Investigators said the cargo capacity of the planes is likely greater than what the Afghans would need, and that their air force would be better served by a series of smaller planes that are less expensive to operate.

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