US investigating allegation of drug smuggling by Afghan Air Force

American investigators are also looking into whether the suspected smuggling ring was tied to the shooting of eight U.S. Air Force officers by an Afghan Air Force colonel last April in Kabul. At the time, Taliban forces claimed responsibility for the killings. But the slain American officers were part of an ongoing investigation into misuse of Afghan aircraft by indigenous military personnel, the Journal reported.

The Afghan Air Force’s arsenal consists mainly of Russian-made Mi-17 cargo helicopters, along with a handful of Mi-25 attack helicopters used to support ground elements of the Afghan National Security Forces. The Air Force is the lead service in charge of training and equipping the AAF under the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan.

American air advisers and their Afghan counterparts are headquartered in Kabul. The majority of training operations are conducted at the Air Force’s facility in Shindand air base in western Afghanistan.

The AAF played an instrumental role in the U.S. offensive into the Taliban stronghold of Marjah in 2010. Afghan airmen ferried ANSF troops and provided air cover for coalition forces during the battle, which kicked off President Obama’s surge strategy in Afghanistan that year.