Afghanistan’s Scattered Airforce

by Nathan Hamm on 1/13/2005

As Afghanistan works to rebuild its military, the government is seeking the return of 26 planes from Uzbekistan and Pakistan to complement the 28 helicopters and transport planes it currently has.

Some of these planes were deliberately moved out of the country to avoid destruction, but some were taken out by pilots trying to escape the country.

Twenty-one years ago, Capt. Mohammed Nabi Karinzai pulled down his visor and roared down the runway in his Soviet-made Su-7 jet for the last time – not for a bombing run against Afghan mujahedeen, but for a dangerous sprint into Western exile.

Karinzai, now 51 and living in Los Angeles, recalled his escape from Afghanistan on Nov. 20, 1983, with pride.

“I knew there were other Russian planes around with air-to-air missiles who would shoot me down, so I told them I had engine trouble and dropped to a low altitude where they wouldn’t see me,” he said in a telephone interview. “They told me to turn back, but they didn’t find me. It was a great feeling.”

Karinzai said he’d be happy to pilot his plane back to Afghanistan if it can fly. However, he feels that F-16s would be much more useful and that his Su-7 would make a much better museum piece.

Also, here’s another Afghanistan blog: Afghan Pundit (via About Afghanistan)


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This post was written by...

– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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