BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:45 P.M.) On Thursday a group of 25 U.S. Senators led by Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio penned a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressing outrage over the billions of dollars in U.S. military equipment lost to the Taliban after the group rapidly took control of Kabul and the entire country. This even included Black Hawk helicopters.
“As we watched the images coming out of Afghanistan as the Taliban retook the country, we were horrified to see U.S. equipment – including UH-60 Black Hawks – in the hands of the Taliban,” the senators wrote.
For weeks now as the Taliban took city after city on their march toward Kabul, social media photos and videos circulated widely which included Taliban militants posing with American-supplied weaponry. This after over the past two decades the Pentagon poured at least $83 billion into training, supplying, and propping up Afghanistan’s armed forces.
“It is unconscionable that high-tech military equipment paid for by U.S. taxpayers has fallen into the hands of the Taliban and their terrorist allies,” the senators continued in their letter, which was published in The Hill. “Securing U.S. assets should have been among the top priorities for the U.S. Department of Defense prior to announcing the withdrawal from Afghanistan.”
While other U.S.-supplied aircraft like A-29 Super Tucano attack planes were also captured, when it comes to something as advanced as a Black Hawk helicopter, it is unlikely the Taliban will be able to operate them. Not only do the Black Hawks require the necessary continued mechanics, parts, and maintenance, but most importantly trained pilots as well.
However, it is possible and even likely that pilots previously serving with Afghanistan’s military, who were trained either by the U.S. or Pakistan’s military, have defected and could potentially form the small core of an emerging “Taliban air force”.