As the U.S. Department of Defense continues toward forced sequestration in 2016, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, SIGAR, has learned that the Pentagon decided to scrap $400 million worth of aircraft for just $32,000. The twin-propeller transport planes, also known as the C-27 Spartan, were destroyed at the request of the Defense Logistics Agency in Kabul after it discovered that the Afghanistan Army Corps was unable to maintain them.
The Italian-made aircraft were part of $486 million program by the U.S. Defense Department that was supposed to fly 4,500 hours between January and September 2012, however, in that time, the planes only recorded 234 hours. The department decided to cancel the project in March 2013. Sixteen of the 20 aircraft were scrapped for 6 cents on the dollar.
The revelation prompted a letter from SIGAR chief John Sopko to Air Force Secretary Deborah James, requesting all documentation that led to the destruction of the planes and an explanation for the destruction.
“Explain whether alternatives to scrapping the planes were considered, and if alternatives were considered, why they were not pursued, such as flying the planes out of Afghanistan to the United States, Europe or other country for sale?” asked the letter.
It also asks what steps were taken to obtain a refund for the department.
One of the main concerns raised by Sopko was what happened to the scrap, which appears to have been sold to an Afghan company. Often the spare parts such as brass and engine parts are altered and used in weapons against U.S. forces.
The remaining four aircraft were saved and are currently in Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Sopko wrote to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, requesting that he be given advance notice before the remaining aircraft were removed or destroyed.