U.S. To Rescue Afghan Pilots And Families From Uzbekistan


The Wall Street Journal is reporting that hundreds of Afghan air force pilots and family members will be taken out of Uzbekistan and flown to the U.S. base in Qatar following intense negotiations over the last couple of weeks. The pilots took 46 aircraft, including helicopters, full of their relatives to the neighboring country during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Uzbekistan gave the total of 585 people refuge but also demanded they be removed from the country or it would send them back to Afghanistan.

The Journal says the Taliban have been pressuring the Uzbeks to send the pilots and their families home to help rebuild a new Afghanistan. “These pilots should return to their country, the country needs them,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told the Journal. “We are just starting to rebuild our country. The world should help us, instead of hurling hurdles in the way of reconstruction of Afghanistan and economic prosperity of our people.” The refugees will be processed at the U.S. base in Doha but it’s not clear how many will be sent to the U.S. The fate of the aircraft, which include Blackhawk helicopters and PC-12 surveillance planes, is not clear but the Taliban wants them back in Afghanistan, the Journal reported.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. MY answer to the Taliban would not involve anything verbal; it would involve a single digit on my right hand while simultaneously “disabling” any air assets that could be ID’ed by satellite. Maybe I’d toss in a terse note saying, “Ya’ll have a nice day … heeaahh.”

  2. I find it interesting that the Taliban wants to “rebuild” a country that the US has poured billions of dollars into and they just took over by force. I find it equally interesting that they want pilots and war weapons to “help” in the rebuild process. What exactly are they rebuilding? Since all those aircraft were given to the former government by the American taxpayers, we should just take them back, along with those pilots who would most likely be tortured or killed the minute they set foot back in Afghanistan. If the Uzbecks want to keep the aircraft, ask them if they would like to shell out a few billion dollars to pay for them. Otherwise, we will provide our own pilots to fly them out.

  3. These pilots did exactly the right thing when it became obvious Command had sold them out. It will be interesting to see if the “intense negotiations” include allowing the hardware to get into the hands of the Taliban.

  4. Is that senile grifter Biden still in power as the illegitimate president? Then yes, the Taliban will be getting the aircraft back, after all, “at this point, what difference does it make”.

  5. Canada has gotten a few Afghans with visas for Canada out of Kabul airport to Qatar – open for limited operation, and some via Pakistan.

    Meanwhile Russia is beefing up military capability of one of the states that has a long border on the north of Afghanistan, in anticipation of Taliban aggression against it.