The row over the amount of equipment that the Taliban captured from the Afghan government after its collapse has barely settled, but now news is coming out of Afghanistan that will likely rekindle it.
A report by Al Jazeera has shown that the Taliban are working to restore not just some of the helicopters that they captured, but also some jet aircraft that have fallen into their hands. The footage shows ground crew conducting a run up of the engine of a L-39 attack trainer.
The Afghan Air Force received 26 L-39Cs in the late 1970s. These were gradually whittled down until it was thought only three remained by the mid-2000s. They then received an overhaul but were only used for parades by the Afghan government during the period of the NATO intervention in the country.
These aircraft have largely been languishing for years in storage, and it is somewhat surprising that the Taliban have managed to get the aircraft’s engines to run at all. Of course, it is quite a jump from conducting an engine run and getting the aircraft flying, but the Taliban do seem determined to get as much of their captured hardware operational as they can.
Al Jazeera also showed a number of A-29 Tucano attack aircraft on display. These were supplied by the United States and performed most of the combat missions flown by the Afghan Air Force against the Taliban. The aircraft are thought to have been damaged before their capture by their crews, though the level of the sabotage is unknown.
The report also shows rows of American supplied “Little Bird” and UH-60 helicopters, at least one of latter appears to be operational.
The Taliban are apparently also trying to restore An-32 transport aircraft back into service. These were retired in 2011, but like most of this old Soviet era equipment, has proven exceptionally resilient and durable. It remains to be seen just how many aircraft the Taliban are going to be able to get operational from their captured horde. But they evidently have the determination to get at least some of it back in the skies.
Big shout out to Oryx blog for their coverage of this issue, check out their article HERE on the subject.