When Kabul fell to Taliban rule on August 15, 2021, the Pentagon sent over 6,000 troops and dozens of aircraft, most of them C-17 Globemaster III airlifters, to evacuate the city.
Two weeks later, on August 30, 2021, the last of the United States’ military planes departed Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport (KBL). They left behind scores of aircraft, military equipment and vehicles.
73 aircraft that were already at Hamid Karzai International Airport were “demilitarized”, or rendered useless by U.S. troops before they wrapped up the two-week evacuation from Afghanistan, said Central Command head Kenneth MacKenzie in a press statement.
Though it was not specified how many of those aircraft were helicopter or fixed-wing, MacKenzie states that they are now inoperable.
“Those aircraft will never fly again. They will never be operated by anyone. Most of them are non-mission capable, to begin with. But they’ll certainly never be able to be flown again.”
MacKenzie adds that they left behind around 70 MRAP armored tactical vehicles (these can cost up to $1 million each), and 27 Humvees. All of these units have been disabled.
The U.S. military also left behind the C-RAM system (counter rocket, artillery and mortar), that was used to protect the airport from rocket attacks. Each C-RAM unit costs $10 million apiece, and MacKenzie said that they were kept until the last minute to ensure that the airfield was protected from attacks as they carried out the last evacuations.
“Certainly our objective was not to leave them with any equipment, but that is not always an option when you are looking to retrograde and move out of a war zone,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.