Taliban appear to fly US Black Hawk helicopters over Kandahar

The Afghan Air Force reportedly had 167 operational aircraft, including 33 Black Hawk attack helicopters, before the Taliban took over

Justin Vallejo
New York
Monday 30 August 2021 17:51 BST
Video purports to show Taliban member hanging from American-supplied helicopter 'over Kandahar'

The Taliban is seemingly parading their new air force in the skies over Afghanistan, with video online purporting to show US-made Black Hawk helicopters flying over the streets of Kandahar.

The Taliban, by some estimates, has more Black Hawk helicopters than 85 per cent of the world after the US abandoned $85bn worth of military equipment.

Unverified footage released by the Twitter account Talib Times, which claims to be the "official news" handle of the Islamic Emirate Afghanistan, shows a man hanging from a UH-60 Black Hawk a day before the US withdraws from the country.

“Our Air Force! At this time, the Islamic Emirate’s air force helicopters are flying over Kandahar city and patrolling the city,” the tweet said.

It comes just days after another video showed Taliban seemingly "test driving" the captured Blackhawk helicopters over the ground at Kandahar Airport, in southeastern Afghanistan.

That 60-second video described the chopper as being captured by Afghan security forces.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan has said the US doesn’t have a “complete picture" of the defence materials that had fallen into the hands of the Taliban.

Video purports to show Taliban 'test-driving' captured Air Force blackhawk helicopter

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

As the Biden administration assesses the amount of equipment left in Afghanistan, the Taliban has been trolling the US by posing in American uniforms and high-tech gear like night vision goggles while driving around in armoured Humvees.

The Afghan air force was operating 167 "usable / In-country" aircraft as recently as June, according to the US-based Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction quarterly report.

That figure included 33 Black Hawks, three C-130 Hercules aircraft, 23 A-19 light attack planes, 33 AC-208 planes, 43 MD-530 helicopters, and 32 Mi-17 Helicopters. The "total inventory" is even higher at 211 total aircraft, which included 45 Black Hawk choppers.

Taliban photo showing fighters posing in US military uniforms

Congressman Jim Banks, a former military sales officer during the Afghanistan War, said the US’s hasty retreat left $85bnworth of equipment to the Taliban.

"I acquired American military equipment to equip the Afghans with — you can imagine how shameful I find it that today all of that equipment has fallen into the hands of the Taliban,” he said at a press conference.

"The Taliban now have more Black Hawk helicopters than 85 per cent of the countries in the world.”

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