Asked about some Afghan army helicopters that went to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan on August 15 and now, the Taliban is looking to get them back, Mr. John F. Kirby, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense, noted at a briefing on January 18 they are still working out the disposition of those helicopters.

“…  I think it's safe to assume that they will not be sent into Afghanistan to be used by the Taliban,” said Pentagon press secretary.  “But as to what they end up doing and where they end up going and who ends up with them, we are still working our way through that decision-making process.”

As it had been reported earlier, acting Defense Minister in Taliban’s Interim Government, Mawlawi Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid, said on January 11 that the military aircraft that were taken abroad should be returned.

TOLOnews says he warned that if the countries where the military aircraft were taken do not return them, “they will face consequences.”

“Our aircraft that are in Tajikistan or Uzbekistan should be returned.  We will not allow these aircraft to remain abroad or to be used by those countries,” Mawlawi Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid said.

The Defense Ministry said that after the collapse of the former government, over 40 helicopters had been transported to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

TOLOnews says that according to reports, before the fall of the former government, Afghanistan had over 164 active military aircraft and now only 81 are in the country.  The rest were taken out of Afghanistan and brought to different countries.

It is to be noted that dispute over the helicopters flown out of Afghanistan between the Taliban and the governments of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan has begun a few days after they came to power in Kabul. 

Fergana news reported in early December that the Taliban have managed to return several Afghan army combat aircraft and helicopters from Uzbekistan. 

Asia-Plus has not yet been able to receive comments on this issue from Tajikistan’s foreign and defense ministries.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) reported on August 26 that over 45 Afghan Air Force aircraft were flown out of the country in mid-August, likely to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Taliban.  Satellite imagery of Termez International Airport in Uzbekistan captured on August 16 reportedly revealed several dozen Afghan military assets situated on the airport’s tarmac.  The platforms visible in the imagery included C-208 utility aircraft, A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, and Mi-17, Mi-25, and UH-60 helicopters.

CSIS noted that the aircraft and helicopters were no longer visible in imagery of the airport acquired on August 21, indicating that their stop in Termez, Uzbekistan, was temporary and they were relocated. Imagery acquired on September 1 of Bohktar International Airport in Tajikistan reportedly revealed that 16 of the utility/transport attack aircraft previously seen at Termez International Airport were transferred here. The fate of the remaining aircraft and all the helicopters originally seen at Termez is unclear, CSIS added.