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US records highest airstrike rate in Afghanistan for nearly a decade

08 October 2019
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US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles dropping munitions on Afghanistan at the height of the conflict some years ago. The US military recoded the most number of airstrikes for nearly a decade in September as the security situation on the ground deteriorates. Source: US Air Force

The US military dropped more munitions on Afghanistan in September than any single month since 2010, figures released by Air Force Central Command (AFCENT) show.

According to the Combined Forces Air Component Commander (CFACC) 2013-2019 Airpower Statistics released on 8 October, about 948 missions flown in Afghanistan in September resulted in weapons being released. This was by some margin the highest number recorded by AFCENT since the height of the conflict in 2010 when the figure for October of that year was 1,043.

As noted by AFCENT, the statistics comprise all manned and unmanned US and coalition aircraft flying in the Afghanistan area of operations under CFACC control. This does not include Afghan Air Force (AAF) assets and, as only the US is currently engaged in kinetic air operations in Afghanistan, these figures are limited to the US military.

With US and coalition combat operations in Afghanistan having officially ended in December 2014, the numbers of CFACC-controlled airstrikes dropped from 2,365 for that year to just 947 in 2015 (the lowest figure recorded since 2009 when AFCENT first began publishing its numbers). The strike rate began to rapidly rise again in 2016 with 1,337 recorded, rose again in 2017 with 4,361, and again in 2017 with 7,362. The new high recorded for September follows another nine-year high in August, which saw 783 strikes. With 5,431 strikes recorded for the year through to 30 September, 2019 could see the most munitions expended over Afghanistan since records were first released in 2009.

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