By The Visual Journalism Team -BBC News
https://www.bbc.com-image source-Getty Images
Pictures have emerged of Taliban fighters with military equipment left behind by US forces at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport.
A total of 73 aircraft, nearly 100 vehicles and other equipment were abandoned by US troops as they pulled out ahead of the 31 August deadline.
But US Central Command head Gen Kenneth McKenzie said it had all been rendered impossible to use.
“Those aircraft will never fly again,” he said.
The aircraft abandoned in Kabul include:
- MD-530 helicopters, used for reconnaissance and close attack
- A-29 light attack planes
In June, the Afghan armed forces were using:
- 43 MD-530s, provided by the US
- 23 A-29s
Establishing the cost of individual items of equipment is not straightforward – but the unit cost of an A-29 has been quoted as more than $10m (£7.3m).
A video shot by LA Times correspondent Nabih Bulos shows Taliban fighters with a CH-46 Sea Knight transport helicopter.
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Used by the US State Department to evacuate staff from the embassy in Kabul, seven Sea Knights have reportedly been rendered inoperable and left behind.
At least one C-130 Hercules transport plane was also pictured on the tarmac.
According to Gen McKenzie, 70 mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs) were also abandoned, after being disabled.
The cost of a single MRAP has been quoted as $500,000-$1m.
Also left behind in Kabul were:
- 27 Humvee all-terrain military vehicles
- an unspecified quantity of counter-rocket and artillery defence systems equipment
In some cases explosives were used to render equipment impossible to use.
Elsewhere in the country, however, Afghan troops fled making little effort to destroy or disable equipment.
Satellite images suggest some aircraft were flown out of the country to Uzbekistan, in the days before the collapse of the Afghan government.
And experts point out some aircraft may be of very limited use to the Taliban without trained pilots, maintenance and access to spare parts.
But, although is impossible to establish a specific number, most of the 167 aircraft, including 33 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, under the control of the Afghan armed forces at the end of June, are now thought to be in Taliban hands.
And the Taliban are clearly already using other US equipment.
Taliban special-forces members have been pictured in Kabul with M4 rifles.
And the US also provided more than 2,500 Humvees, from December 2017 to April 2020, according to the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
Specific costs may vary – but the unit price has been quoted as more than $250,000.
Other equipment experts say could be of huge tactical value to the Taliban include night-vision goggles,16,000 of which were provided to Afghan troops between 2003 and 2021.