Taliban members crashed an American Black Hawk helicopter during a training exercise in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, killing three and injuring five more.
Videos shared on social media showed the moments leading up to the crash. One video showed the Black Hawk helicopter spinning in circles in apparent distress before the helicopter takes a nosedive into the ground.
Moments after the helicopter falls out of the camera’s view behind a building, there is a loud thud and pieces of broken helicopter blade can be seen flying back up into the air.
Another camera angle showed a brief few seconds of the helicopter plunging into the dirt.
Enaytullah Khowrazmi, a spokesperson for the interim Taliban government’s Ministry of Defense said, “An American Black Hawk helicopter, which was flown . . . for training, crashed due to a technical problem inside the campus of the National Defense University,” Reuters reported.
It was not actually clear if the helicopter that crashed was one that U.S. forces had themselves used and then abandoned in Afghanistan, or if it was one the U.S. had donated to the Afghan government before its collapse last summer.
The U.S.-backed Afghan governments collapsed over a series of weeks as Taliban forces marched through the country while the last U.S. troops were still evacuating. By Aug. 15, 2021, the government in Kabul had either fled or surrendered, and the Taliban seized control over the capital city.
During the Taliban’s rapid march through Afghanistan, many U.S.-backed Afghan government forces surrendered or fled, abandoning large troves of weapons, vehicles and equipment for the Taliban to take.
A video emerged on Aug. 25, 2021, showing Taliban members hovering a few feet off the ground and then driving around in a Black Hawk helicopter in Kandahar in an apparent joy ride. Just days later, a U.S.-donated Black Hawk was seeing actually flying over the streets of Kandahar.
In November, the interim Taliban government expressed its intentions of building up a functioning air force.
The Taliban’s air force may be bolstered by U.S.-trained pilots like Mohammad Edris Momand. According to the BBC, Momand was trained by U.S. instructors and had flown for the U.S.-backed Afghan government, but defected with a Black Hawk helicopter to Taliban-controlled Kunar last summer.
Some helicopters left behind in Afghanistan have been in a state of disrepair after they were abandoned. Last month Khowarazmi told Reuters that the Taliban had recently repaired some of the abandoned helicopters and were conducting test flights.