Blackhawks, Humvees, rifles, tanks: Taliban now has $85 billion-worth arms
After the United States' pull-out from Afghanistan, the Taliban has emerged as a force to be reckoned with. The group overthrew the Afghan government, capturing key cities, along with Afghan airbases and aircraft. The Taliban is now said to be the first extremist group with an air force, apart from being armed with Humvees, tanks, artillery, machine guns, etc.; courtesy of the US government.
What all equipment does the Taliban possess?
According to The Times, the Taliban now has its hands on 22,174 Humvees, 634 M1117s, 155 MxxPro mine-proof vehicles, 169 M113 armored personnel carriers, 42,000 pick-up trucks and SUVs, and 8,000 trucks. In terms of weaponry, the Taliban has reportedly seized 64,363 machine guns, 176 artillery pieces, 126,295 pistols, 358,530 assault rifles, along with 16,035 night vision goggles and 162,043 radios.
Aircraft in possession of the Taliban
The group has also managed to get its hands on four C-130 transports, 23 Embraer EMB 314/A29 Super Tucanos, 28 Cessna 208s, 10 Cessna AC-208 strike aircraft, 43 MD530s, and 33 Mi-17s and US-60 Blackhawks each. By some estimate, these equipments are worth $85 billion.
Afghan forces had control over 167 aircraft in June: Report
Earlier, the Afghan Air Force was operating 167 aircraft by late June, according to a report by the United States-based Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (Sigar). After the US withdrew its troops from Afghanistan and the Taliban gained ground, the extremist group continued to seize weapons from Afghan troops. As the group captured key cities, it also gained access to Afghan airbases.
Taliban's salwar kameez replaced by combat gear
Since taking over Afghanistan, the Taliban has been sharing photographs of confiscated aircraft and other equipment. The group also boasts US-made weaponry along with combat gear as opposed to the characteristic salwar kameez and Kalashnikov assault rifles.
Some US-made aircraft shifted abroad after Taliban takeover
However, reports also indicate that some US-made aircraft were removed from Afghanistan before the Taliban could reach it. A Delhi-based aviation expert told the BBC that satellite imagery from August 16 showed more than two dozen helicopters—including MI-17, MI-25, Blackhawks, etc.—at the Termez airport in Uzbekistan. These aircraft could be from the Afghan Air Force, experts surmise.
How did the Afghan Army get US gear?
Between 2003-2016, during America's two-decade-long 'War on Terror' in Afghanistan, the US had supplied the Afghan Army with loads of machine guns, rifles, grenade launchers, etc. In 2014, the NATO forces ended their combat role. As the Afghan Army struggled in its role of securing the country, the US backed them up with more equipment and military gear.