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Taliban Demands Return of Evacuated Aircraft

Surprise! Half of Afghan Air Force Planes Remain Outside of Country

The acting Defense Minister of Afghanistan, Mawlawi Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid told those gathered at a ceremony featuring the country's limited air force that those surrounding countries still holding 'Afghani' aircraft should return them to the regime or face nebulous consequences. 

The last days of the Afghani Republic saw droves of qualified pilots flee the country (for their lives) with their mechanical steeds, escaping the advancing Taliban forces by using their (often desperately needed) aeronautical skills. A large portion of the US-funded Afghan Air Force ended up parked in neighboring Uzbekistan as nearly 600 escaping servicemen and their families abandoned almost 50 aircraft. Tajikistan also found itself the erstwhile owner of a few aircraft, now at somewhat of a loss at what to do with them. The aircraft include light attack A-29 Super Tucanos, MD-500 helicopters, UH-60 Black Hawks, C-208 Cessna Caravans, and Pilatus PC-12s, all aircraft the minister says are badly needed in the country. Before the fall of the US-backed government, the country had over 164 military aircraft, of which less than half remain. 

The minister told those gathered that there will be consequences if those Afghani aircraft taken out of the country are not returned to what he considers the rightful owner.  "Our aircraft that are in Tajikistan or Uzbekistan should be returned. We will not allow these aircraft to remain abroad or to be used by those countries," he told gathered attendees. "After the collapse of the former government, over 40 helicopters were transported to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.” It is unknown what possible consequences could be, given the unstable state of the young Taliban government. Economic sanctions, embassy withdrawal, and other traditional state protestations are not entirely likely, say some commenters.



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