The Pentagon says American combat aircraft are flying armed overwatch sorties over Kabul in the past 24 hours to covers the evacuations.
The U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets flying from the deck of the Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which is presently sailing in the North Arabian Sea.
However, U.S. military officials have denied earlier reports that these aircraft made any low pass over the city and have declined to elaborate on exactly what might prompt American warplanes to conduct airstrikes in support of the ongoing evacuation operations in Afghanistan’s capital.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby and U.S. Army Major General Hank Taylor, the Director of Current Operations within the Office of the Joint Staff, provided the new details about armed aircraft operating in the skies over Kabul at a briefing at the Pentagon today.
Kirby stressed that these recent Super Hornet sorties were not the first missions by armed American aircraft over Afghanistan since the drawdown of American troops in the country morphed into a massive evacuation mission after the Taliban took Kabul on Aug. 15, 2021.
The Super Hornets operating over Afghanistan, like other American combat aircraft, would have to fly to the country via Pakistan with the help of U.S. Air Force aerial refueling tankers.
“These are not low pass flights…they are at altitude,” Kirby said. “There had been some reporting out there that there were low passes and that there was some sort of shows of force, and I think we felt it was important for the General [Taylor] to provide some context about what is happening in the air and why.”
Evacuations through Hamid Karzai International Aiport are still proceeding steadily, at least according to the Pentagon, and the plan remains for the entire operation to conclude by Aug. 31.
Just in the past 24 hours, 13 C-17As arrived Kabul carrying troops and equipment, according to General Taylor.
A dozen of those planes left Hamid Karzai International Airpot in the same period, with more than 2,000 passengers on board, he added.
Since evacuation operations began over the weekend, the U.S. military has facilitated the departure of approximately 7,000 people, in total, through Hamid Karzai International Airport.