The Department of Defense converted $486 million worth of airplanes into scrap metal which it sold to an Afghan construction company for $32,000, according to a government watchdog that tracks spending in Afghanistan.
That poor return on investment is documented in two letters sent by John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, to Defense Department officials, including Sec. Chuck Hagel and Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James.
The twenty G222 planes, which were manufactured in Italy and are used to transport equipment and troops, were not put to use in the Afghan theatre because they “could not meet operational requirements,” Sopko reported.
Purchased in 2008, the planes were “grounded” in May 2013 “after sustained, serious performance, maintenance, and spare parts problems.”
Instead of finding another use for them, sixteen of the airplanes were transported to a remote corner of the Kabul airport and sold by the Defense Logistics Agency for scrap at a price of six cents per pound.
That worked out to $32,000 worth of metal, which was purchased by an Afghan construction company.
The other four aircraft are currently at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
In his letters, Sopko questioned whether the Defense Department explored other ways to utilize the G222s.
“I am concerned that the officials responsible for planning and executing the scrapping of the planes may not have considered other possible alternatives in order to salvage taxpayer dollars,” Sopko wrote to James.
Sopko requested documents detailing the decision-making process leading up to the planes’ scrapping.
He also requested information on the Defense Department’s plans for the four planes being kept in Germany.