The Brazilian Embraer A-29 Super Tucano light attack squadron, operated by the Afghan Air Force, has been going through an epic since the Taliban accelerated the country’s takeover, consolidated with the occupation of Kabul on Sunday (15).
Of the 23 devices that were in the country, at least 14 were taken to Uzbekistan, and 1 of them fell in operation. The others have an uncertain fate, according to a US Department of Defense assessment gathered by Folha.
What is certain is that at least one of the planes is in the hands of the Taliban, according to information from US military intelligence, who had access to photographs of activists of the fundamentalist group around the Super Tucano in an uncertain location.
The crashed plane was shot down by Uzbek air defenses, according to Russian news agencies, or collided with an Uzbek fighter plane accompanying it on its flight. In any case, the two Afghan pilots of the Super Tucano survived and are in a hospital in Termez, capital of the province of Surkhondario.
He was part of a group of 22 military planes and 24 helicopters that escaped between Saturday (14) and Sunday, the day of the fall of Ashraf Ghani’s government. They violated Uzbek airspace in search of refuge, and it is likely that they were flown in the absence of the airmen’s superiors.
The Brazilian planes were produced under license in the United States by Embraer’s local partner, Sierra Nevada. They were acquired for US $ 428 million in a batch of 20 in 2011, which started operating five years later, and in another of 6 units, for US $ 130 million in 2017.
The fact that some Super Tucano and at least 91 helicopters have been left behind doesn’t necessarily mean they are now flying for the Taliban Air Force. Certain factors contribute to it.
First, in the case of Brazilian fighters, pilots. Since they started supplying the planes to the Afghans, Washington has been training airmen and technicians. The program ended last November with around 30 pilots and 90 support men trained.
As it was one of the main differentials of the Afghan armed forces in the fight against insurgents, due to its operation in hostile environments and specific to operations against small and mobile targets, the Super Tucano became the target of a special campaign of the Taliban.
At least 7 of the 30 pilots were killed in the shelling, along with family members of other servicemen. This created a climate of growing tension, with reports of desertion. Still, the United States promised in July to deliver three more planes to Kabul, which obviously won’t happen again.
In addition, the Afghans may have been ordered by the Americans to deactivate the weapon systems, which are controlled by software, from the airplanes. They can even fly like that, but shooting is another story, which also involves having enough ammo.
In June, the Afghan parliament released a report indicating that laser-guided bombs were missing from the Air Force’s inventory due to their heavy use against the Taliban.
Finally, airplanes need constant and preventive maintenance. Hunters, subjected to extreme operating pressures, change parts before they even show wear, as a preventive measure. This tap will be closed to the Taliban.
This does not mean that the military booty inherited by Islamist militants is not enormous. One of the crises of ignorance of the Taliban’s military advance is that the Americans did not have time to protect or remove all of the military materiel they had in the country.
The US government predicted a siege of Kabul in 30 days, but the capital fell two weeks after the start of the final offensive.
In addition, the $ 90 billion spent on equipment for Afghan allied forces is now affected. So you can see armored trucks patrolling the streets of Herat and Afghan National Police vans with Taliban behind in Kabul.
There was a sizable armored force, 1,013 units, in the hands of the overthrown government, as well as 775 pieces of artillery – while militants tend to rely more on their AK-47 rifles and RPGs (launches). rocket propelled grenades).
Again, all of this equipment must be exploited, but the degree of complexity is infinitely less than that of modern fighter jets or helicopters.
On Monday (16), with dust still thick in the air of Sunday’s events, the Taliban announced their intention to offer full amnesty to Afghan soldiers who fought the fundamentalist group, provided they join it.
As the U.S. occupiers weren’t really popular with the troops, and fear of retaliation spreads across the country, membership is likely to be massive. Perhaps the Taliban have what they never had, not even in their incarnation as a government (1996-2001): a de facto army.