Taliban shows off US-made military helicopters, weapons captured at Kandahar from Afghan army
The video, released from Herat, Afghanistan, shows Taliban fighters taking joy rides in US Air Force Mi-17 Hip helicopters
The Taliban released footage on social media showing captured US-made military helicopters at Kandahar airport abandoned by the Afghan army. Until recently, Kandahar was one of the most important US bases in the country.
However, with the Taliban brutally taking over the country and as civilians run helter-skelter, the weapons and ammunition captured at these bases now belong to the Taliban. Insurgents have reportedly been way too eager to show off their war spoils. The fall of Kandahar, which is Afghanistan’s second-biggest city, on Friday, August 13, 2021, meant that the insurgents were once again in full control.
"Video reportingly shows #Taliban captured Kunduz airport with #Afghanistan Air Force Mi-35 Hind attack helicopter," Joseph Dempsey, Research Associate for Defence & Military Analysis wrote on his Twitter.
In footage posted on Taliban social media accounts on Saturday, an insurgent can be seen walking around a US-made Black Hawk military helicopter, which is in brown-green camouflage with Afghan Air Force markings, purportedly at a Kandahar airport hangar. After he walks out, another Black Hawk is seen in the distance on the tarmac. As he walks to the side of the hangar, two Russian military helicopters are seen as another person is heard saying 'Mashallah'. However, reports say that it isn't clear whether any of the helicopters were airworthy.
NEW 🚨 Taliban with weapons taking a helicopter ride reportedly over Herat, Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/oZM8k17WkM— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) August 16, 2021
One can see the Black Hawk inside the hangar seemingly in storage, with a black sheet covering its windshield and its left engine apparently missing. The two Russian helicopters outside the hangar were missing their blades, with a sheet covering the front of one airframe. One of the fighters can be heard claiming there are five military helicopters at the airport and several jets.
#Taliban reportedly shown with another non-operational #Afghanistan Air Force helicopter#US supplied Bell MD-530F '289' was damaged in emergency landing in Bolan area, Helmand province 29 July.https://t.co/m9zzvp5BkB pic.twitter.com/xFiuPAjaNa— Joseph Dempsey (@JosephHDempsey) August 13, 2021
AFP reportedly could not independently verify the number of helicopters and planes at Kandahar airport. Even though the Taliban have been able to deploy other equipment on the battlefield, experts are doubtful about the utility of captured helicopters and planes. As per reports, the Taliban are not known to have pilots or technical personnel needed to fly them.
To be clear this a loss for #Afghanistan but does not equate to an operational attack helicopter for #Taliban— Joseph Dempsey (@JosephHDempsey) August 11, 2021
Though rotor blades are stored below this suggests further technical reasons airframe was left behind. Also would required trained ground & air crews to operate. pic.twitter.com/wPp9hUGtD2
"While it appears the #Taliban may have captured some operable Mi-17 Hip helicopters (and potentially other types in future) their access to proficient air crews will remain a limiting factor - these are not forgiving 'pick up and play' platforms," Dempsey wrote.
While it appears the #Taliban may have captured some operable Mi-17 Hip helicopters (and potentially other types in future) their access to proficient air crews will remain a limiting factor - these are not forgiving 'pick up and play' platforms. https://t.co/KiYLGVDG6k pic.twitter.com/aMoosN3IaR— Joseph Dempsey (@JosephHDempsey) August 14, 2021
The Kandahar video was released just a day after the Taliban captured the city from Afghan forces. Images such as these reportedly emerged from cities across Afghanistan that have fallen to the Taliban, showing insurgents posing with captured weapons and patrolling in vehicles once used by Afghan spies and elite forces. Reports reveal that Taliban fighters have also seized tactical vehicles, Humvees, small arms and ammunition. "#Taliban reportedly shown at captured Shindand Air Base, Herat Province with two #Afghanistan Air Force Mi-17 Hip helicopters undergoing maintenance and a room of spares parts," he wrote. Even though the US troops left, Taliban fighters now have American-supplied arms and equipment like the "Bell MD-530F and at least one UH-60 Blackhawk," according to Dempsey's tweet.
#Taliban reportedly shown at captured Shindand Air Base, Herat Province with two #Afghanistan Air Force Mi-17 Hip helicopters undergoing maintenance and a room of spares parts. pic.twitter.com/cGR2kDF8fJ— Joseph Dempsey (@JosephHDempsey) August 13, 2021