Skip to comments.Pentagon to Buy Russian Helicopters Despite Ban
Posted on 04/06/2013 3:52:53 AM PDT by autumnraine
WASHINGTON, April 4 (By Maria Young for RIA Novosti) The US Department of Defense said Thursday it plans to sidestep a Congressional ban to purchase 30 helicopters from Russian state-owned defense firm Rosoboronexport, despite objections from US lawmakers who allege that the firm has equipped the Syrian government to commit brutal crimes against civilians.
The Department of Defense (DOD) has notified Congress of its intent to contract with Rosoboronexport for 30 additional Mi-17 rotary-wing aircraft to support the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) Special Mission Wing, Pentagon spokesman James Gregory told RIA Novosti in emailed comments.
The 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, approved by Congress last year, includes an amendment that prohibits financial contracts between the United States and Rosoboronexport, except when the Secretary of Defense determines that such arrangements are in the interest of national security.
Given current timelines, the department has determined that Rosoboronexport is the only viable means of meeting ANSF requirements for the helicopters, Gregory said.
The contract totals $690 million, most of which would go to the Russian arms maker, he added.
In February, US President Barack Obama announced plans to reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan from 66,000 to 34,000 over the next year, leaving Afghan forces with an increased role in their nations security.
Many of the Afghan forces have already been trained to operate the Russian aircraft. Switching to a new platform would delay the readiness of their rotary wing division by at least three years while crews get training and experience on a new system, Gregory said.
A bipartisan Congressional group wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week in which they objected to the ongoing business relationship between the Russian arms company and the Pentagon.
What is the national security justification of continuing business with Rosoboronexport? they asked in the letter.
Russia continues to transfer weapons through Rosoboronexport to the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, they continued. Since the Syrian uprising began, Russia has continued to serve as the Assad regimes chief supplier of weapons, enabling the mass murder of Syrian citizens at the hands of their own government.
Russia, however, has insisted that the deliveries are legal under international law and that it is not supplying Syria with offensive weapons. Moscow has also questioned the composition and goals of the various armed groups fighting the Assad regime.
US Rep. Jim Moran, who co-authored the amendment, said Rosoboronexport had supplied nearly $1 billion in arms to Assads government between 2011 and 2012, including high-explosive mortars, sniper rifles, ammunition and refurbished attack helicopters.
Public records show that some of the representatives who signed the letter and sponsored the amendmentincluding Moran, Rep. Kay Granger and Rep. Rosa DeLaurohave received campaign contributions from US defense contractors.
But Morans spokeswoman, Anne Hughes, described any implication that the lawmakers concern is more about campaign contributions than arms for Syria as laughable. Representatives of the other lawmakers did not respond to requests for comment.
The objections are understandable, the US defense industry needs contracts. But from a cost-benefit analysis, Russian helicopters are a better deal, Simon Saradzhyan, a security expert at Harvard Universitys Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, told RIA Novosti on Thursday.
The Russian helicopters, he said, are generally not as sophisticated or advanced as those made in the United States, making them arguably more suitable for use by Afghan security forces.
This is the Russian competitive edge, Saradzhyan said. They cost less and they are easy to maintain. This is how Russian arms supporters make their sales speech.
The Russian aircraft are superbly suited for harsh environments, said Gregory, the Pentagon spokesman.
In their letter to Hagel, the lawmakers asked what steps the Pentagon had taken to consider alternative helicopter suppliers. They also requested that the department prepare a detailed briefing and present it to Congress before taking any action on the pending contract.
Hagel has received the letter, Gregory said.
He will of course respond.
I want to buy a gun from my enemy in hopes that it will work in the event that I may have to use it against him. Mental illness, deliberate treasonous bastards or both
And some say this guy was the better of the two options we had last election.
Congress means nothing. Good to have that confirmed.
If any of you doubt it...we a BANANA REPUBLIC.
My take on this is we shouldn’t buy the Russian helicopters because they are supplying weapons to Assad, while we are supplying weapons to the Rebels.
If the Russian helicopters will get our men out of Afghanistan any faster buy them.
Of course the argument that the Congress mans nothing is a legitimate argument. The Congress today is made up of thieves and suck butts.They are there merely for show and to take their share of the pork money that keeps them there.
Dumb bunch of a-holes, weren’t they?
“WE THE PEOPLE” no longer means jack squat!
prosecute whoever willingly violates the law prohibiting such purchase
“The US Department of Defense said Thursday it plans to sidestep a Congressional ban....”
You gotta’ wonder how this is even possible - Zero “side-steps” Congress A LOT - and there is no recourse?
Will we even make it to 2016?
Sheesh don’t any of these idiots know that the lifespan of Russian helicopters is measured in hundreds of flight hours not thousands
If this government, and I use that term loosely, is just going to piss money down a rat hole, why can't it be my rat hole?
Are we really that stupid—or is it worse than mere stupidity?
So America doesn’t make helicopters anymore?
DeLauro asks Pentagon about Russian helicopter deal
WASHINGTON — It’s not easy to find an issue that can leave both Connecticut Democrat Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn equally outraged.
But the Pentagon paying $17 million apiece for a fleet of Russian helicopters certainly does the trick.
The Defense Department wants to spend taxpayers’ money to buy 30 more Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters to give to the Afghan army, through what is effectively a no-bid contract that blocks competing bids from such American helicopter manufacturers as Sikorsky, Bell and Boeing.
Stratford-based Sikorsky, which makes the comparable S-61 craft, has strongly advocated to the U.S. government “that U.S. aircraft manufacturers are more than capable of delivering affordable and reliable helicopters for the Afghan mission.” In a statement, Sikorsky said: “Given the opportunity, we would like to compete.” The S-61 is a cargo and passenger craft widely used around the world by governments and private firms.
But the Pentagon has narrowed its Afghanistan proposal in a way that eliminates American helicopters.
After Cornyn complained that the Pentagon hadn’t opened up the helicopter acquisition program to other bidders, Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s acquisition chief, said the Defense Department would ask U.S. firms about “their ability to provide airworthy, armed Mi-17 aircraft for use by the Afghan military.”
Because no U.S. firms make the Mi-17, the Kendall letter amounted to a blunt rebuff to Congress and the U.S. helicopter industry.
To date, the Pentagon has bought about 70 of the Russian-made Mi-17s for the Afghan military. The new Pentagon plan to buy 30 more has riled some members of Congress who are asking Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for an explanation.
The lawmakers also are irked that the Mi-17 helicopters would be supplied to Afghanistan by Russian official state arms broker Rosoboronexport, the same firm that furnishes weapons to embattled Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad.
Led by DeLauro, 10 House members have written Hagel to suggest that the Pentagon’s purchase would be a violation of the National Defense Authorization Act that Congress and President Barack Obama enacted last year. The act included a provision sponsored by DeLauro and Cornyn specifically barring any Pentagon dealings with Rosoboronoexport, though the measure allows the secretary of defense to waive that provision if such a waiver was “in the national security interests of the United States with respect to the capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces.”
This must be just one example of that “flexibility” Obama told the Russians he would have after the election.
buy American so when the radicals take over in the very near future like they did in Iran under Jimmy Carter ( notice a pattern here ) and turn against us, they will have a hard time finding parts.
“After the election, I will have more flexibility.” - message transmitted comrad
Hey, Russians make good helicopters! Why not buy them and use em—Or we could be like the Chinese, buy one and copy them.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.