By: Avery Kleinman
A collection of 16 airplanes paid for by the U.S. Air Force is collecting dust at the Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan after being deemed nonfunctional due to consistent maintenance issues. According to Bloomberg, the broken down transport aircraft cost American taxpayers at least $486 million.
The G222 turboprop aircraft, produced by government contractor Finmeccanica, only logged 200 of their planned 4,500 flying hours before being grounded. They were intended to make up 15 percent of the Afghan Air Force’s fleet upon completion of the hours.
Instead, they will likely be stripped of military gear before being destroyed, since the U.S. has been unable to find any interested buyers.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has opened an investigation into how so much money could have gone to waste.
We need answers to this huge waste of U.S. taxpayer money,” John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction (SIGAR), said in an e-mailed statement. “Who made the decision to purchase these planes, and why? We need to get to the bottom of this, and that’s why we’re opening this inquiry.
Unfortunately, wasteful contractor spending in Afghanistan is nothing new. In August, the Project On Government Oversight wrote about SIGAR’s quarterly report to Congress, which found “serious shortcomings in U.S. oversight of contracts.” For example, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers paid $3.4 million to contractors for a building that remains incomplete and is full of potential health and safety hazards.
The failed aircraft have also opened up questions about how well the Afghan military will be able to function once the U.S. formally withdraws its troops. By the end of 2014, the U.S. government will no longer have oversight access to many of the projects it has paid for.