The Airbase with No Aircraft: Shindand AFB, Afghanistan

Brazil's Tucano
Brazil's Tucano
Shindand AFB
Shindand AFB
Russian junk aircraft
Russian junk aircraft
US AT-6
US AT-6

It's a gleaming, new, bright and shiny, modern military air base for the soon-to-be Afghan air force, courtesy of the U.S. It has a 8000 ft runway. It is Afghanistan's newest, built where the Soviets had their air base in the 1980's. The air base is suppose to have $355 million dollars worth of Brazilian designed aircraft to fight guerrillas, it has none, due to American legal issues originating in Kansas. The former contract was voided and a new contract will not be signed until 2014. The planes won't arrive until after, stalling the debut of the Afghan Airforce until late 2016.

Adding to the mess, is the 15 C-27A cargo plane debacle, where $275 million worth of aircraft are grounded because the Afghans have failed to maintain them and lack spare parts. When the Soviets left in 1989, they left the Afghans 400 military aircraft, half were fighter jets and some Su-22, supersonic ones. Few of them remain working, most are in the aircraft graveyard near the Iranian border.

Oh, have I mentioned the $300 million the U.S. has spent upgrading the airbase. Slated to arrive soon are just training aircraft: six C-812 and 12 C-208 from Cessna. A few training helicopters are there now, the six MD-530. Once they learn, they graduate to Russian Mi-17 transports (52) that the U.S. have bought from Russia. When the Taliban attack around the AFB, the commander of the base receives air support requests, to which, he simply states we have none. The commander states, "We have trained pilots, though".

The aircraft slated for the Afghan AFB were the Brazilian made Super Tucano, a rugged fighter already tested in South America. Its rival was the Beechcraft AT-6, the the U.S. currently uses to train fighter pilots. The senators and congressmen of Kansas used their political tactics to stall and then make dead the Turcano deal. The U.S.A.F. had excluded the American plane for numerous reasons. Once the contract was void, the Brazilians filed a lawsuit to reinstate the contract.

What a mess the whole Afghanistan war is.

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