Pentagon buying Russian copters for Afghans who aren’t ready to fly them

The Pentagon is spending $771 million on 30 Russian helicopters and 18 Swiss planes for Afghan special forces charged with stopping terrorism and opium production even though the force only has a quarter of the personnel needed to fly and maintain the equipment, according to a new audit.

In his latest critical analysis of U.S. spending in Afghanistan, John F. Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, called on the Pentagon to immediately suspend the purchases and he raised questions about the $553 million contract to the Russian firm.

Sopko also revealed in his audit provided to Secrets that the Afghan forces are not ready to handle maintenance and operation of the aircraft. “Without an effective support structure, U.S.-funded [special forces] aircraft could be left sitting on runways in Afghanistan, rather than supporting critical missions, resulting in waste of U.S. funds,” said the audit.

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