NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told the Financial Times that civilian casualties in Afghanistan had led the alliance to reconsider aircraft weapons loads. He said, “If you put a 250 kilogram bomb rather than a 500 kilogram bomb on the plane that could make a huge amount of difference.” He also told the Times that the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan would defer some attacks—whether ground or air—against Taliban forces from one day to the next if civilians were at risk. Alliance commanders have maintained that the Taliban has inflated civilian casualty numbers, and some Afghan leaders have acknowledged that the Taliban are using civilians as shields. It is that circumstance that has led NATO officials to rethink the alliance strategy. “We see that the Taliban have changed tactics; they realize they cannot win militarily and they are now deliberately forcing civilians into situations in which they get them killed to undermine support for ISAF in Afghanistan,” de Hoop Scheffer told the Times. He added, ” That means that we also adjust, we cannot avoid it.”
The Pentagon awarded a contract worth over $2 billion for the next batch of F-35 engines to Pratt & Whitney on June 5. The deal for Lot 17 F135 engines, totaling $2.02 billion, is expected to be completed by December 2025.