Concerns became a reality as American military weapons worth millions of dollars fell into the hands of the Taliban.
Sophisticated military equipment, including aircraft and armoured vehicles, were initially prioritised for strengthening Afghan security forces before the Taliban’s takeover.
While it remains to be seen how many — and what kind of — weapons have fallen into the hands of the Taliban, there is no doubt about the abandoned or seized equipment giving a major advantage to the armed group.
Here are the top 10 military-grade weapons seized by the Taliban and what they are capable of doing in the battlefield:
1. A-29 Super Tucano: A light attack aircraft, it is estimated to cost around $20 and 30 million, a relatively low price compared to other same-level fighter aircraft, according to the American defence contractor, Sierra Nevada Corporation. It can carry a wide scale of weapons and is designed for riot controlling, close air support and reconnaissance missions in low-hazard environments. At least one Super Tucano was seized in Afghanistan’s Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport.
2. UH-60 Black Hawk: It is a military transport and attack helicopter. One of the most expensive helicopters on the market with a $5.9 million cost, its advanced system facilitates pilots to identify static targets with its firing rifles and laser-designated missiles. It can measure the required range for pilots to hit targets during day and night operations with sharp accuracy even from high distances. Black Hawk was captured soon after Kandhar fell on August 12. Kandhar is Afghanistan’s second-biggest city, where the US had one of its main bases containing substantial military equipment.
3. ScanEagle mini military drone: An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that fulfils the trinity of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions during exclusive service, escort operations while obligated to protect secure data and collect swift wireless voice and video evidence. The UAV can give a bird’s-eye view for more than 24 hours at a rapid speed. Each system costs about $3.2 million.
4. MD-530F: A light attack rotorcraft, MD-530F is capable of enhancing ambush, armed escort and close air attack. It is a multi-purpose military helicopter that cost over $2.4 million and functions for tactical and transportal operations. The helicopter’s rapid take-off power distinguishes it from other military aircraft, granting effective and strategic attacks during offensive air operations. The Taliban reportedly have captured at least one MD-530.
5. Mine-resistant vehicles (MRAPs): These are armoured, all-terrain vehicles that provide effective protection against land mines and ambushes and cost between $500,000-$1,000,000. The MRAPs can furnish safe shipments even in intense conflict areas and are designed to protect personnel and passengers from explosive roadside bombs.
6. M1151 Humvee: It is an upgraded armament carrier with more than a price of $220,000 per vehicle and was created to protect passengers with exceptional armours, allowing it to function more like a lifeguard. In 2017, the US had supplied a stock of 4,700 Humvees to Afghanistan. Most of them, as per various media reports, are now in the hands of the Taliban.
7. M24 Sniper Weapon System: Referred to as a system, its accessories and attachments help the weapon transform into an eagle eye sniper rifle. M24 is known for its simplicity and reliability and provides superior accuracy by its cost and versatility.
8. M18 assault weapon: It is a single-shot rifle that can shoot at a tank and personnel with high accuracy. This recoilless rifle is capable of firing artillery-type bullets more effectively than anti-tank weapons. The Taliban has seized thousands of such assault rifles.
9. M4 Carbine: It is a gas-operated weapon with a $700 average cost and has a multi-firing system. The system allows the rifle to be equipped with a laser, grenade launcher, night vision, flashlight, laser mark and even a tiny shotgun that bestows extra lethality. The US left thousands of them behind and the Taliban happily added them to their inventory.
10. 40 mm high explosive grenade: Designed for grenade launcher ammunition, the weapon consists of high-velocity shells. ‘An AGL (Automatic Grenade Launcher) with a high velocity 40mm gun gets you an effective range of around two kilometres’ says defence expert Helge Stadheim, explaining the functionality of 40mm grenades. (Cost: $400 to $500 per cartridge)
Source: TRT World