U.S. Military Probed: Bought Afghans $468M in Planes, Sold as $32K Scrap



The U.S. Air Force is being probed over a financial snafu. The department reaped a mere $32,000 in scrap for 16 aircrafts that cost $486 million.

The Wall Street Journal explains:

At issue is a fleet of Italian-built C-27A cargo planes that were procured for the Afghan Air Force, which has a shortage of air-lifters to haul troops and equipment. The Afghans began receiving the twin-engine aircraft, also known as the G222, in 2009, but the planes were grounded for several months in 2012 because of a lack of adequate maintenance and spare parts.

Including maintenance costs, the Air Force's total tab was $596 million before officials decided to park the planes, and ultimately sell them for scrap at six cents a pound.

"The G222 fleet was unable to fulfill mission needs, a decision was made to discontinue the program in December 2012, and the contract was allowed to expire in March 2013," said Marine Corps Maj. Brad Avots, a Defense Department spokesman. "The Department of Defense recently completed disposal of aircraft located in Kabul, Afghanistan to minimize impact on drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan."

Couldn't they have done anything else? That's what government watchdog Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko wants to know. "I am concerned that the officials responsible for planning and executing the scrapping of the planes may not have considered other possible alternatives in order to salvage taxpayer dollars," he wrote in a letter last week that was made public yesterday.

Reuters reports:

Sopko also asked if any other parts of the planes had been sold before they were destroyed by the Defense Logistics Agency.

Sopko's office has been investigating the matter since December 2013 after numerous non-profit groups and military officials raised questions about funds wasted on the planes. …

In an interview last year with NBC News, Sopko said it was unclear if the incident was criminal fraud or mismanagement, but the waste was not an isolated incident in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon's inspector general has also investigated the issue, which the non-profit group Project on Government Oversight (POGO) calls "a shining example of the billions wasted in Afghanistan."

Similarly, billions of dollars-worth of mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles are being scrapped in Afghanistan.

Such issues of financial mismanagement by the military remain relevant in light of the rising price of fighting ISIS in Iraq, and the Obama administration's deal with Afghanistan to keep around 10,000 American troops in the country after the war officially "ends," and that "U.S. funding for Afghanistan [will be] up to $8 billion annually for military and other assistance for at least the next three years," according to The Washington Post

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  1. Italian-built…

    Really, by this time people should know better.

    1. Hi, I’m Troy McClure an Italian engineer, you may remember from such engineering fuck-ups as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Lancia Beta…

      1. Outstanding!

    2. Oh come on. They were perfectly good planes that were used by many countries for decades. They’re just old now.

      1. Sounds like someone recently purchased a second hand Alpha Romeo and is desperately trying to convince himself it wasn’t a bad idea.

        1. Sigh. I wouldn’t buy a Model T today, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t good cars in 1920.

          1. If you have a spare Model T sitting around, I’ll take it off your hands.

        2. Planes are designed to last 20, 30, or more years. When you’re paying millions of dollars for something, you expect to get your money’s worth out of them.

          There are plenty of WWII-era planes still flying. When I drive home, I pass by a collection of Messerschmidts and Hellcats (I think) I’ve seen flying.

        3. No one has ever purchased an Alpha Romeo, but untold thousands have purchased ALFA’s.

    3. With some leftover canvas, matthew mcconaughey could have turned these into land yachts.

  2. In an interview last year with NBC News, Sopko said it was unclear if the incident was criminal fraud or mismanagement, but the waste was not an isolated incident in Afghanistan.

    One man’s waste, fraud and mismanagement is another man’s STIMULUS!

  3. I laughed until I remember that it’s my money they pissed away.

    Anyone shocked that we have wasted vast sums of wealth nation-building? Who’s shocked that Afghans don’t do aircraft maintenance (if Allah wills it, it will fly)?

    1. If we stopped using the term “nation-building” and started using the REAL term which is “government-building” support for these wars would drop below 20%.

    2. One of the interpreters I knew if Afghanistan was a retired US commercial pilot…he said he would walk before getting in an Ariana (Afghan National airlines) plane.

      1. Was the first class section called Grande?

        Don’t narrow your eyes at me, mister!

  4. Your lunch time derp: anti-rape activist rails against strawmen

    1. Ugh I only got about 40 seconds into that before I had to stop.

    2. By the way what is an anti-rape activist? Is there a pro-rape group out there that I’m unaware of?

      1. Teach the controversy, man.

      2. Is there a pro-rape group out there that I’m unaware of?

        All white cishet men, shitlord. Check your privilege!

        /end SJW



    3. Since no-one’s actually arguing in favor of rape, they have to argue against strawmen.

      1. I’m pretty sure government = rape. Lots of people in favor of government.

  5. Amazing what you can learn on Wikipedia, which Reason apparently blocks on its bloggers’ computers:

    The C-27A was last manufactured in 1993; the $486M was spent on refurbishing 20 old planes (not 16). The lack of spare parts is eminently understandable when you know that.

    16 of the planes were scrapped, the other 4 are currently in Germany awaiting a buyer. Understandably it’s hard to find a buyer for Cold War era troop transports. And absolutely no one is going to be interested in parts harvested from the other 16, so scrapping them was logical.

    1. Either way, this was criminal waste. If Reason’s account is right then the planes shouldn’t have been scrapped. If you’re right then they shouldn’t have been bought and refurbished in the first place.

      1. Modern transport planes would have been even more expensive.

        Warplanes are like toilet paper — you’re not going to want them back after you lend them to someone else.

        1. Sorry, Gabriel, you’re right. We had to buy some type of transport planes for the Afghans to ignore and abuse, so it’s good that we bought relatively cheap ones. Buying no planes at all just wasn’t an option…

          1. Would anyone have been willing to sell them planes right after 911?

            1. China? Russia?

            2. France.

      2. And the point is that Zenon Evans didn’t bother to find out further details, and assumed that the $486M was only for the 16 scrapped planes. Sorry, I expect more from a blogger than to be a glorified low-capacity RSS feed that misstates pertinent facts.

        1. Your patheticness knows no bounds, does it Tulpa. I’d ask if that was painful, but clearly it isn’t because you keep doing it.

        2. Hmmm… Should I trust the journalist who cites specific Reuters and WSJ articles, or the random guy who cites “Wikipedia”? These days it’s probably a wash…

          And it’s still irrelevant, because either way this is an article about gross government waste.

          1. “Wikipedia” is backed up by several sources.

            The linked WSJ article is behind a paywall, while the Reuters article does in fact note that there were 20 aircraft. So Mr. Evans did not read the article he cited very thoroughly.

    2. 600 million doesn’t turn into 32K worth of garbage that fast without some serious mis-management. And how do you square a lack of spare parts with all of the spare parts on 16 planes being worthless?

      Likely, the buyer cherry-picked the best 4 and then made a deal with the scrap man to have access to the other 16 as needed.

      Somebody made off with millions on both ends of this deal – our millions.

      1. There is no buyer for the 4 others yet (which never made it to AFG and are still at Rammstein). The scrap metal was purchased by an Afghan buyer to avoid spending more money to transport them elsewhere.

        These 20 refurbished planes were roughly half of the C-27A’s remaining operational total worldwide. There is no market for spare parts of a plane nobody’s using anymore.

        1. There is no market for spare parts of a plane nobody’s using anymore.

          Seems like that would have been an important consideration when refurbing the planes, doesn’t it?

          1. Wait….you might be on to something here!!!

            /USAF logistics doofus

    3. Wait, are you actually arguing that it was smart to buy planes for which they weren’t available spare parts? Planes need spare parts all the time, so buying ones where there’s no ready supply is really friggin’ dumb.

    4. Delta has 117 MD-88’s which were first introduced in 1980. The average age of those planes is 24 years.

      As long as they’re maintained an old plane and a new plane are equally safe to fly. Older planes do require quite a bit more maintenance than newer planes, but on the other hand, a lot more of the bugs have been worked out of older planes. (Remember how the Boeing 787 was grounded due to battery fires? It’s still in its teething stages.)

  6. Speaking of stimulus:

    There is a lot governments and central banks could do to avoid another recession. For example, a recent I.M.F. report showed that increasing government spending on public investments like roads, ports and railways can help stimulate the economy immediately and for several more years. If done right, such spending could generate benefits that more than offset the costs, particularly in developing nations like Brazil and India, which suffer from high inflation in part because of the high cost of transporting food and other goods on traffic-clogged roads.

    Not all price increases are “inflation”. Inflation is a monetary phenomenon.

    But why would we expect the NYT editorial board to know that?


    1. Stimulus today, stimulus tomorrow, stimulus forever!


    2. If done right….. The devil is in the details. It can never be done right, therefore it cannot be done.

    3. Monetary inflation and price inflation are two separate phenomena. Price inflation is the one that matters; monetary inflation is only a problem when it leads to price inflation.

  7. Shameful. I mean, my local PD could have used those to transport troops… er, I mean officers.

  8. And of course if the USAF saved the planes for transfer to US police departments, Reason would be up in arms over that too.

    1. Had a liquid lunch, Tulpa?

      1. His mother dried up years ago. You have no idea how much breast milk costs on the open market.

  9. Krugabe glares balefully down from the his ivory tower at the unbelieving rabble.

    What if they balanced the budget and nobody knew or cared?

    O.K., the federal budget hasn’t actually been balanced. But the Congressional Budget Office has tallied up the totals for fiscal 2014, which ran through the end of September, and reports that the deficit plunge of the past several years continues. You still hear politicians ranting about “trillion dollar deficits,” but last year’s deficit was less than half-a-trillion dollars ? or, a more meaningful number, just 2.8 percent of G.D.P. ? and it’s still falling.

    What portion of each dollar spent by the federal government is borrowed, Professor Krugabe? How will we manage our debt service when interest rates are inevitably allowed to return to historical levels?

    1. What if Krugman wrote an article that made sense and nobody read it?

      OK, he hasn’t actually written an article that made sense. But..

      1. You are unredeemed, tulip. I’d recommend not bothering to try, because it’s a waste of bytes and calories.

    2. Problem is, the 2.8% defict is still alrger than GDP growth, so the debt is gorwing faster than the economy. Not sure that’s a reason to celebrate.

      1. Shriek to “debunk” this because “Obama CUT the deficit!” in 3…..2…..1…..

        1. No, no. He cut the deficit, just not as deeply as he cut the economy.

      2. A Problem is, the 2.8% defict is still alrger than GDP growth, so the debt is gorwing faster than the economy.

        Krugs also makes a big fat assumption that healthcare spending has slowed by some permanent systemic infrastructure change rather than just a transient chilling effect of screwball legislation.

        I have yet to see the FDA trial data on Obamacare’s ability to prevent obesity or cancer or related diseases. Let alone the ability to prevent their continued rise in their occurrence. More relevantly, once spending does begin to rise again, it falls on the bad side of the ledger.

    3. How will we manage our debt service when interest rates are inevitably allowed to return to historical levels?

      Like that will ever happen. The Fed has discovered the method to endless wealth creation. Soon enough we’ll all be billionaires!

      Except the poor folks that can’t afford to get into the market because the government siphons 13% of their wages into a shitty pension scheme. But who gives a shit about those rubes, am I right?

      1. But look how decades of near 0% interest rates have helped Japan!

    4. Why are leftists concerned about sustainability everywhere but in government budgets?

  10. Similarly, billions of dollars-worth of mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles are being scrapped in Afghanistan.

    If it’s a choice between that and having them end up in the hands of local police forces…

    1. Shame they won’t just sell them to citizens here in the United States at discount prices. If only America was as free is it likes to pretend to be.

      1. If only America was as free is it likes to pretend to be.

        Or capitalist.

  11. Seeing ISIS use abandoned US military hardware on their caliphat campaign is ______.

    Fill in the blank. The winner can sit next to Peter Marshall rhis week on Hollywood Squares.

    1. Tony for the block….

  12. the Lancia Beta…


    The Stratos, on the other hand….


    1. The Stratos was pretty bad-ass, and in fairness to Lancia they did make some pretty bitchin’ cars (the Stratos and the Delta Intregrale come immediately to mind). But the Beta definitely wasn’t one of them.

  13. The Delta would be a bitchin’ car to own, but if I were going to own a rally car from that era, I think it would have to be a Peogeot 205.

    Maybe a Renault R5 Turbo.

  14. If they could have gotten them to the States (I assume they scrapped them in the ME), they could have sold them off for much more than $2K each.

  15. There’s nothing left to cut!

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