U.S. defense officials have secretly requested a “prodigious quantity” of ammunition from Russia to supply the Afghan army in case a Democrat president takes over in Washington and pulls out American troops. Pentagon chiefs have asked arms suppliers for a quote on a vast amount of ordnance, including more than 78 million rounds of AK47 (the well-known Kalashnikov submachine gun) ammunition, 100,000 rocket-propelled grenades and 12,000 tank shells — equivalent to about 15 times the British Army’s annual requirements, The Daily Telegraph reported Monday.
The order also suggests the Afghan army will be equipped with T62 tanks, Mi24 Hind attack helicopters, and Spandrel anti-tank missiles.
Defense specialists said Russian arms chiefs at first “fell about laughing” because they thought the order was a joke when it arrived this month. But with the Americans said to be pressing for a price and an earliest delivery date, the request is being rapidly processed and exports could begin before the end of this year.
Some observers pointed to the irony of the deal, because when the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan the Americans sold Stinger surface-to-air missiles to the Mujahideen to enable them to shoot down Moscow’s aircraft.