The Pentagon on Tuesday defended plans to buy attack helicopters from a Russian arms firm for the Afghan government even though the same company has supplied weapons to Syria's regime.Isn't that what we have American helicopter manufacturers for?
US senators have voiced dismay at the deal with Rosoboronexport, but defense officials said the contract with the firm was the only way to bolster Afghanistan's fleet of Russian-made choppers.
"We're not buying helicopters for the Syrian regime. We're buying helicopters in support of the Afghan Air Force," press secretary George Little told reporters.
Senator John Cornyn, in a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday, expressed outrage at the purchase of Mi-17 helicopters for Afghanistan from Rosoboronexport.
"I remain deeply troubled that the DoD (Department of Defense) would knowingly do business with a firm that has enabled mass atrocities in Syria.
"Such actions by Rosoboronexport warrant the renewal of US sanctions against it, not a billion-dollar DoD contract," Cornyn wrote.
The United States plans to buy 21 Mi-17 helicopters for the Afghan military from Russia's Rosoboronexport by 2016. The contract totals $375 million by 2016, with an option to buy additional aircraft worth $550 million.
Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby said: "This particular contract is the only method legally available to the department to provide those aircraft and, just as importantly, safe and reliable spare parts and equipment to support those aircraft for the Afghan military."
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
The bad news? Russia is sending attack helicopters to Syria. The bad news? We're buying helicopters from the same Russian company: