Video footage and photos posted on social media have revealed numerous Afghanistan Air Force helicopters seized by the Taliban as it continues to gain territory in Afghanistan following the US troop withdrawal.
These include footage of a Mi-35 Hind helicopter and Mi-17 transport helicopter, at least one Bell MD 530F following an emergency landing, and numerous UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters supplied by the US Army in an attempt to shift the Afghan Air Force’s reliance on Russian-manufactured aircraft.
Joseph Dempsey, Research Associate for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, has maintained a Twitter thread collating footage and imagery that purports to show the captured aircraft.
A loss for Afghanistan, but not necessarily a win for Taliban
As of 30 June, the Afghan Air Force had just over 200 aircraft, of which 167 were operational, held across two bases in Kabul and Kandahar, with the latter being taken over by Taliban forces on Friday 13 August.
However, Dempsey added within his Twitter thread: “This [is] a loss for Afghanistan but does not equate to an operational attack helicopter for [the] Taliban.
“Though rotor blades are stored below, this suggests further technical reasons [the] airframe was left behind. Also it would require training ground and air crews to operate.”
Black Hawk helicopters are among the most ubiquitous and versatile rotorcraft, and it is sobering that it can represent such a potent threat in the hands of the Taliban and be recently adopted to combat the wildfire season in Adelaide, Australia.