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US builds Afghan air base, but where are the planes?

By Published: July 25, 2012

There is proof of the roughly $500 million budgeted for upgrades to transform an arid flatland into an airfield with all the trappings of a modern military air base in Shindand, western Afghanistan: There's an 8,000-foot runway, a new headquarters complex, barracks and a training center, The Wall Street Journal reported.

But the warplanes are missing.

In February, the U.S.-led coalition had said it wanted to double the ranks of Afghan air force personnel, from 4,000 to 8,000, and increase the country’s fleet to 140 aircraft, more than twice its existing size.

But political jousting over contracts seems to have kept the Afghan air force from receiving $355 million worth of planes, the Journal reported, stalling progress and delaying the date in which the Afghan air force can expect to be fully functioning on its own to 2016 or 2017, the Journal reported.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

An expanse known as ''the boneyard'' at Shindand Air Base in Herat province holds vestiges of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan that ended in 1989. Battered husks of dozens of military aircraft litter an area the size of perhaps six or seven football fields.
Martin Kuz/Stars and Stripes

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