- REUTERS/Larry Downing
Blackwater founder Erik Prince is reportedly trying to convince the government of Afghanistan to use his private air force for close air support and intelligence collection, according to a proposal obtained by Military Times.
The proposal was floated to Afghanistan’s government in March through a company called Lancaster6, led by CEO Christiaan Durrant, an ex-Australian Air Force pilot and former operations director of Frontier Services Group, the firm Prince founded after he sold off his Blackwater empire.
Durrant previously ran FSG’s “special aviation division,” The Intercept reported in 2016.
It’s unclear what Prince’s role is with Lancaster6, although an Afghan military official told The Military Times that Prince personally presented the private air force proposal (Frontier Services Group did not immediately respond to request for comment).
The “turn-key” proposal to the Afghan government included pilots manning small propeller planes, helicopters, light transport aircraft, drones, and A-4 Skyhawk jets – Vietnam-era light attack aircraft that can fire missiles, bombs, and machine gun ammunition. The proposal also said Lancaster6 could provide medical evacuation and door gunners.
The Military Times report comes less than a month after The New York Times reported that Prince had tried to present a plan to the Pentagon that would replace most American troops in Afghanistan with private contractors. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis “listened politely but declined” to hear out Prince’s ideas, the Times reported.
Prince in May wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that a private contractor force under the command of a US “viceroy” working in Afghanistan would save money and fix what he called an “expensive disaster.”