Our New Megabase in Afghanistan

So, this is some drone-related news about the Afghan war that we missed. While most media attention has been focused on CIA drone bases in Pakistan, the U.S. last year transformed the remote ex-Soviet air field at Shindand, near the Iranian border, into the second biggest air base in all Afghanistan.

The perimeter of the once sprawling Soviet base was officially expanded to three times its size to accommodate the Afghan air force’s undergraduate pilot training center. However, with last month’s downing of an RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone, news emerged that Shindand plays host to the secret UAVs, which had previously only been known to fly out of Kandahar air base.

The facility’s remoteness and proximity to the border with Iran makes it the perfect location for a variety of ops against Tehran. In fact, its one of the few major U.S. bases that doesn’t appear to be updated when veiwed through satellite viewers like Google Maps. Even the sensitive U.S. facilities in the UAE show plenty of Western jets parked on their ramps. Meanwhile, updated (albeit grainy) images of Kandahar Airport, where the RQ-170 likely takes off from for missions over nearby Pakistan, are easily viewable in Google Maps.

Do a quick Google Image search for Shindand and you’ll see plenty of images of everything from AH-64 Apache helos, F-15E Strike Eagles and C-17 Globemasters (shown above) to Afghan air corps Cessna Caravans and even old MiG-21s operating out of the base.

Shindand’s remote location even made it the ideal ground for the Soviets to test out their VTOL fighter, the Yak-38 in 1980.

In any case, as long as tensions between the U.S. and Iran remain high, you can bet that Shindand will remain important.

  • Musson

    Meanwhile the coalition is planning to start bringing home $30 Billion in equipment.

  • arty

    If we only kept a large base operational in Iraq, we would have had Iran surrounded on 3 sides.

  • Michael

    I feel like Columbo with the late Peter Falk as he slumps in his coat and says, “Lemme get this straight-we got a huge base in Afghanistan which could be very handy in the event of a major strike on Iranian sites but we’re gettin’ out of Iraq but we have the largest US embassy in the world ( larger than the Vatican)in Baghdad in area, which will have USMC guards and thousands of civilian contractors….” Somethin’ ain’t kosher here…”

  • Brian Black

    Give it a few years and the Air Force will be laying another new runway, somewhere in Iran.

  • Nick

    Any word on air defenses? If things went sideways with Iran thats a target even they could hit.

  • Stephen Russell

    Yeah will Iran target base in pre emptive strike since now Israeli jets have place to make Emergency landing or Refuel mid mission??

  • Lance

    Might be the best base to attack Iranian Nuke sights.

  • Rhyscurrency

    The stark reality is that NATO (read, USA) is not leaving Afghanistan anytime soon, as many are claiming.
    If that were really true, then why build all those military megabases?
    It is in there for the long haul. It came not for al-qaeda, but for getting a foothold right under the belly of Russia.
    Chasing al-qaeda serves as a convenient smokescreen

  • Sanem

    true, but Pakistan has nuclear weapons, is a close ally to China and can be bought (unlike Afghnistan, where major oil companies broke off negotiations with the Taliban shortly before 9/11, because the Taliban wouldn’t accept their offers)

  • Tenn Slim

    Add to the mix, the F15 recent sale to the Saudis.
    Iran recent activities in the Gulf brings the year 2012 one step closer to the predicted “crisis” of Pre Election November.
    Expect this summer to be domestically, and Middle Eastern conflicts crisis to erupt.
    Semper Fi

  • RCDC

    I guess we need to delay any draw down of our troops in Afghanistan because of the potential conflict in the Strait of Hormus with Iran,

    • blight

      Not really, because a counter-insurgency geared force is not the right one to defend from Iranian attack or to counterattack. Either forward deploy more relevant equipment or leave the country.

  • Billy

    Uhmmm why not just let them kill each other.

    • blight

      Because “they” hate the United States more than they hate “each other”.

      We already tried abandoning them in the ’90s. And that’s why we’re here again.

  • gladys

    are our men safe there is there internet access

  • heres


  • zendesk.com

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Perfectly written!