Three people were killed when the Taliban crashed an American Black Hawk aircraft.

According to a group spokesman, three people were killed, and five others were hurt after a Taliban pilot crashed a Black Hawk helicopter on Saturday in Kabul, Afghanistan. Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Defense, Enaytullah Khowrazmi stated on Saturday that “an American Black Hawk helicopter, which was flown for training, crashed owing to a mechanical failure inside the campus of the National Defense University.”

One of the Taliban’s few operating UH 60 Black Hawk helicopters, which they took from the now-defunct Afghan Air Force last year, has been lost, highlighting the new Taliban air force’s difficulties with training and maintenance, a Navy pilot told Task & Purpose. When the US military left Afghanistan last year, it left behind more than USD 7 billion in material, including USD 923.3 million in military aircraft and USD 294.6 million in aviation ammunition. In a study released, the Department of Defense Inspector General stated that some aircraft “were demilitarized and rendered unusable during the evacuation.” Additionally, the Taliban seized over 300,000 small weaponry, including sniper rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers, and tactical combat vehicles.

Due to inexperience and poor maintenance, the Taliban pilot lost control of his Black Hawk.

It is unknown how many of the Black Hawks captured by the Taliban last year can still fly. On August 31, the Taliban organized a parade to commemorate the first year after they overcame the erstwhile Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Four UH-60 helicopters took part in the display.

Late in 2016, Connecticut’s congressional delegation successfully convinced the Pentagon to begin supplying the Afghan Air Force with UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, ironically constructed in Connecticut, to replace the Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters it had been using.

The former military of Afghanistan suffered greatly as a result of this action. In addition to being unable to operate in Afghanistan’s mountainous regions and fly as high as the Mi-17s, Black Hawks are also far more challenging to repair than the Russian helicopters the Afghans had used for years. Because of this, the Afghan Air Force relied on private contractors to maintain its fleet of Black Hawks. These contractors started departing Afghanistan in 2021 as part of the American military’s withdrawal from the nation.

According to a study released on June 30 by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the old air force of Afghanistan possessed 33 UH-60s about six weeks before the Taliban took control of Kabul. On July 12, 2021, the Pentagon promised to send another 37 Black Hawks to Afghanistan, but the Afghan Air Force quickly started to disintegrate.

According to Reuters, which keeps in touch with other pilots who are still hiding in Afghanistan, more than 200 Afghan pilots, maintainers, security personnel, and family members were able to fly into neighboring Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to flee the Taliban. This group included 11 pilots who flew Black Hawks to safety.

According to Jonathan Schroden, an Afghanistan expert with CNA, a nonprofit research and analysis group in Arlington, Virginia, the Taliban have utilized their recently acquired fleet of helicopters since claiming victory over the National Resistance Front last summer in parades and other displays of force, as well as to bring supplies to areas of Afghanistan affected by floods and to support Taliban forces who are still engaged in combat with the NRF in the Panjshir Valley.

However, because there is so little credible information coming from the combat in the Panjshir Valley, it is difficult to determine precisely how the Taliban are utilizing their helicopters to support operations there, according to Schroden, who spoke to Task & Purpose.

According to Navy Reserve Lt. Cmdr, the United States rescued several of Afghanistan’s former UH-60 pilots, who are currently in Arizona. Jack McCain, who spent a year in Kandahar and Helmand regions teaching Afghan helicopter pilots.

McCain told Task & Purpose that the Taliban lacks qualified Black Hawk pilots and trained maintainers. According to him, this suggests that the Taliban won’t be able to continue using their Black Hawks indefinitely.

According to McCain, the Afghan pilot apparently lost control of his aircraft in the Saturday Black Hawk crash due to an issue with the helicopter’s tail rotor.

McCain responded, “I seriously doubt that was what was happening. A helicopter rarely experiences conditions where it is fully uncontrollable. The pilot could not recover with any degree of expertise, indicating that whoever was in charge was not a more experienced pilot and lacked the proficiency to prevent the aircraft from crashing into the ground.”

According to McCain, most Afghan Black Hawk pilots who were not saved have been forced to continue flying for the Taliban. He stated that he only knows one Black Hawk pilot who voluntarily joined the enemy: Mohammad Idris Momand.

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