Afghanistan Foreign Policy International Political Weaponization

US Blackhawk Helicopters Captured by Taliban

Disturbing photos show Taliban members holding American M-4 carbines and M-16 rifles instead of their usual AK-47s or AKMs. Further images and videos showed the Taliban surrounding U.S. Black Hawk helicopters and A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft.

“As we watched the images coming out of Afghanistan as the Taliban retook the country, we were horrified to see U.S. equipment—including UH-60 Black Hawks—in the hands of the Taliban,” Senators Marco Rubio, Bill Cassidy, and 24 other senators wrote to the Pentagon’s chief Lloyd Austin.

“It is unconscionable that high-tech military equipment paid for by U.S. taxpayers has fallen into the hands of the Taliban and their terrorist allies,” the Senators added.

“When an armed group gets their hands on American-made weaponry, it’s sort of a status symbol. It’s a psychological win,” said Elias Yousif, deputy director of the Center for International Policy’s Security Assistance Monitor, according to The Hill.

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“Clearly, this is an indictment of the U.S. security cooperation enterprise broadly,” Yousif added. “It really should raise a lot of concerns about what is the wider enterprise that is going on every single day, whether that’s in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia.”

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“They may be able to manage a flight or two or to operate them in some really limited capacity in the short term, but without long-term sustainment, maintenance, servicing, that sort of thing, it wouldn’t turn into a robust or useful military capability,” Yousif said. “It took the Afghans and the United States a long time to develop an indigenous air capability, and even then, they were reliant on the United States to keep those planes in the sky.”

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Discussing weapons, the deputy director stated that M-16’s “are easy to maintain, easy to learn how to use, easy to transport. The concern for all small arms is that they are durable goods and they can be transferred, sold. We’ve seen this before where a conflict ends and the arms that stay there make their way to all parts of the world.”

“We don’t have a complete picture, obviously, of where every article of defense materials has gone, but certainly a fair amount of it has fallen into the hands of the Taliban,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan publicly stated. “And obviously, we don’t have a sense that they are going to readily hand it over to us at the airport.”

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“Those Black Hawks were not given to the Taliban,” he said. “They were given to the Afghan National Security Forces to be able to defend themselves at the specific request of [Afghan] President [Ashraf] Ghani, who came to the Oval Office and asked for additional air capability, among other things.”

Below, the Afghanistan

Image Source: // “Afghan Air Force graduates from a UH-60 mission qualification course display their certificates in front of a Black Hawk helicopter, May 8, 2018, Kandahar Air base, Afghanistan.” Original Source: US Air Force/1st Lt. Erin Recanzone

“Everything that hasn’t been destroyed is the Taliban’s now,” one U.S. official—an anonymous source—told Reuters.

“We have already seen Taliban fighters armed with U.S.-made weapons they seized from the Afghan forces. This poses a significant threat to the United States and our allies,” Representative Michael McCaul, of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, told Reuters in an email.

A Brief Summary of the Taliban’s Arsenal

Numbers reviewed in The Hill show an astounding amount of US weaponry poured into Afghanistan over the past two decades

Between 2003 and 2016, the United States transferred to the Afghan forces, according to a 2017 Government Accountability Office report.

  • 75,898 U.S. vehicles
  • 599,690 U.S. weapons
  • 162,643 pieces of U.S. communications equipment
  • 208 U.S. aircraft
  • 16,191 pieces of U.S. intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment including Night-vision goggles

From 2017 to 2019, the United States also gave Afghan forces even more equipment, according to a report last year from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

  • 7,035 machine guns
  • 4,702 Humvees
  • 20,040 hand grenades
  • 2,520 bombs
  • 1,394 grenade launchers,

“The ability to operate at night is a real game-changer,” a congressional aide told Reuters.

“In some cases, some of these will be more like trophies,” said Retired U.S. Army General Joseph Votel. He oversaw U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and was head of U.S. Central Command from 2016 to 2019.

While the ability to fly, maintain, and repair was previously beyond the capabilities of the Taliban, the U.S. provided Armored Vehicles and Aircrafts give more resources to learn our technology. Currently they act more as trophies than immediate usable weapons against America, it still leaves a disturbing impact on U.S. citizens, knowing their taxes fund this unorganized retreat.

Russian Technology

Taliban have captured more than 100 military helicopters, Russia says. The Taliban captured at least 100 Mi-17 Hip helicopters, a Russian-made transport aircraft procured by the US for the Afghan armed forces. These Helicopters were cheaper and are ‘easier to fly’ than U.S. UH-60 Black Hawks.

“The helicopter fleet there is large – more than 100 Mi-17 helicopters of various types,” said Alexander Mikheev, head of the Russian export company Rosoboronexporter, according to the Interfax. “Of course, this fleet requires repair, maintenance and spare parts supply,” he added.

“As soon as the servicing personnel stop working, the equipment according to Russian standards becomes non-flying,”
Mikheev concluded.


A statement by the Uzbekistan government said that “46 Afghan aircraft, including 24 helicopters, had been forced to land” in the central Asian country. Analysis from satellite photos shows that 19 aircraft appear to be Russian Mi-17s and 9 are U.S. Black Hawks.

Has our government budget gone to aid the Taliban in their rise to power? Will this negligent gross loss of taxpayer funded United States Technology come back to haunt America?


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