Defense

November 15, 2013

Pentagon ending buys of Russian-made helicopters

The U.S. Defense Department said Nov. 13 it is canceling plans to buy additional cargo helicopters from the Russian arms export agency that has supplied Syrian President Bashar Assad’s military forces with arms and ammunition.

The additional 15 Russian-built Mi-17 helicopters were to be purchased next year at a cost of $345 million and then delivered to Afghanistan’s national security forces.

Bipartisan opposition to the Mi-17 acquisition grew as the violence in Syria escalated and U.S. relations with Russia deteriorated. A growing number of lawmakers from both political parties objected to acquiring military gear from Rosoboronexport, which has provided Assad’s regime with weapons used against Syrian civilians.

“I applaud the Defense Department’s decision to cancel its plan to buy 15 additional Mi-17 helicopters from Rosoboronexport,” Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican, said in an emailed statement. “Doing business with the supplier of these helicopters has been a morally bankrupt policy, and as a nation, we should no longer be subsidizing Assad’s war crimes in Syria.” Cornyn, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican leader, said he was informed of the decision last week by Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

Pentagon spokeswoman Maureen Schumann said the department re-evaluated the requirements for Mi-17s in consultation with Congress. “We currently do not have plans to purchase additional Mi-17s from Rosoboronexport beyond those” already under contract.

Top U.S. military officials have maintained the Russian-made helicopters are ideally suited for the Afghans, who are rebuilding their air force and need a reliable and easy-to-operate helicopter for transporting troops throughout the country’s harsh environment. Overall, the Defense Department has paid more than $1 billion since 2011 for 63 Mi-17s that have been delivered to Afghanistan or are on order.

Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, told Cornyn in a letter last year that the Defense Department “condemns the actions of Rosoboronexport in supplying arms and ammunition to the Assad regime in Syria, whose forces have used these weapons to murder Syrian civilians.”

But the urgent need to supply the Afghans with Mi-17s had trumped congressional calls to terminate the contract with Rosoboronexport.

Cornyn and other members of Congress also argued the Defense Department should have more seriously considered acquiring an American-made helicopter for the Afghans. The U.S. Army’s Chinook, manufactured by defense giant Boeing, and a transport helicopter made by Sikorsky, were among the possible options.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat, called the move a welcome, if long overdue, first step and she urged the Pentagon to spend U.S. tax dollars on American-made systems. “I am proud Congress united in a bipartisan manner to deliver that message, and that the Pentagon has finally heard us,” she said.

Carter told House lawmakers in September that multiple reviews and assessments were conducted of more than two dozen helicopters that were either available or in development. Carter said the Afghans are very familiar with the Mi-17 and none of the other aircraft examined met the requirements.

Despite the Pentagon’s certainty the Mi-17 was the right choice for the Afghans, Congress refused to let up its campaign to end the business relationship with the Russians.

In an August letter to Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 13 Republican and Democratic senators questioned whether Afghanistan could ever be fully independent of Russia if the country continues to operate Russian aircraft for decades to come. They also expressed concern the arrangement could put the United States at a disadvantage on matters of strategic importance.

They questioned whether the “overreliance on Russia fostered by this Mi-17 program put the U.S. at risk of Russian coercion or blackmail on other security issues,” including the crisis in Syria, Iran’s drive to obtain nuclear weapons, and U.S. missile defense.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines August 28, 2014

News: After F-15 jet crash in Virginia, rescue helicopters search for pilot - Helicopters are searching for an Air National Guard pilot after his F-15 jet crashed in the mountains of Virginia this morning, military officials said.   Business: U.S. Air Force 3DELRR contract expected soon - The U.S. Air Force could award the contract for its...
 
 

News Briefs August 28, 2014

Russian directing new offensive in Ukraine The Obama administration believes Russia is leading a new military counteroffensive in Ukraine. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says Russia has sent additional columns of tanks and armored vehicles into its neighbor’s territory. She says the incursions suggest a ìRussian-directed counteroffensive is likely underway in the contested e...
 
 
LM-C5

Double Deuce

A U.S. Air Force crew ferried the 22nd C-5M Super Galaxy from the Lockheed Martin facilities in Marietta, Ga., Aug. 25. Aircraft 86-0011 was ferried by a crew led by Maj. Gen. Dwyer L. Dennis, Director, Global Reach Programs, O...
 

 
Northrop Grumman photograph

First ever RQ-4 Global Hawk hits 100th flight on NASA mission

Northrop Grumman photograph A historical look at the first Global Hawk (AV1) during its maiden flight over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on Feb. 28, 1998. AV1 has made history again with its 100th flight in support of NASA en...
 
 

Northrop Grumman’s CIRCM system completes U.S. Army flight testing

Northrop Grumman’s Common Infrared Countermeasures system recently completed another round of U.S. Army testing by demonstrating its capabilities on a UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter. The flight test was conducted at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., by the Redstone Test Center. The Northrop Grumman CIRCM system was subjected to rigorous conditions over a six-week period, after...
 
 
NASA photograph by David Olive

NASA completes successful battery of tests on composite cryotank

https://www.youtube.com/embed/qkGI6JeNY0E?enablejsapi=1&rel=0 NASA photograph by David Olive One of the largest composite cryotanks ever built recently completed a battery of tests at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Cen...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>