Speed Reads

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Department of Defense sold nearly $486 million of airplanes for $32,000 as scrap metal

Two letters sent by Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction John Sopko to high-ranking DoD officials reveal that in 2013 the department sold 16 airplanes as scrap metal. The Afghan construction company that bought the planes paid just $32,000 for them, though the 16 planes were originally a set of 20, which was purchased for $486 million.

In the second of the two letters, addressed to Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, Sopko explains that the planes had been "experiencing continuous and severe operational difficulties, including a lack of spare parts." Apparently a master of understatement, Sopko comments, "I am concerned that the officials responsible for the planning and executing of the scrapping of the planes may not have considered other possible alternatives in order to salvage taxpayer dollars."