Taliban plan to build new air force in Afghanistan
- As of June 2021, the Afghan Air force was estimated to have more than 200 aircraft
- Taliban seized helicopters left behind the US military
- US troops 'demilitarised' 73 aircraft at the Kabul airport before leaving Afghanistan
The Taliban plan to bolster their military capabilities by raising an air force from the remnants of the one left behind by the US-backed Afghan government it ousted mid-August in a lightening takeover of the country. Qari Saeed Khosty, a spokesperson for the Taliban's Ministry of the Interior, said the regime will also try to convince the air force professionals who had worked under the previous government to return for the full-fledged air force that will be built soon.
"We are trying to use the previous government's air force - the professionals that they had - and make sure they all return. The best policy for us is - whatever department is needed; we are going to have it," knewz quoted Khosty as saying, reports news agency ANI.
As of June, the Afghan Air force had more than 200 aircraft that included 167 planes, according an assessment by the US government's Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
The Taliban had captured nine major airbases across the country as it swept through province after province during its offensive against the Afghan security forces. The Taliban also seized Chinook helicopters left behind the US military at the Kabul airport and its fighters were seen flying Black Hawk helicopters on September 1 during a parade to mark Afghanistan's 'Independence Day' on September 1.
US Central Command head General Kenneth McKenzie had said at the time 73 aircraft at the Kabul airport had been "demilitarised" or rendered useless by the US troops before completing their withdrawal from the country by August 31.
However, it still remains unclear how much of the equipment that the Taliban captured from the Afghan Air Force is operable. Recently, the Taliban used three helicopters including a US Black Hawk to deploy a quick reaction force at the Sardar Dawood Khan military hospital in Kabul during a suspected ISIS-K attack.
The Taliban-run defense ministry spokesperson, Enayatullah Khwaraizmi, said the regime wanted the new Afghan military to be "fully independent."