The Pentagon bypassed United States helicopter makers, choosing to spend more than $1 billion on dozens of Russian Mi-17 helicopters for the Afghanistan military. A study shows the Chinook built by Boeing is a better fit.
In an effort to arm Afghanistan‘s security forces with new helicopters, the Pentagon bypassed American companies and turned instead to Moscow for dozens of Russian Mi-17 rotorcraft at a cost of more than $1 billion.
The Mil Mi-17 is a Russian helicopter currently in production at two factories in Kazan and Ulan-Ude. It is a medium twin-turbine transport helicopter that can also act as a gunship.
Why the United States buys Russian Helicopter
Senior Pentagon officials assured skeptical members of Congress that the Defense Department had made the right call. They repeatedly cited a top-secret 2010 study they said named the Mi-17 as the superior choice.
Turns out the study told a very different story, according to unclassified excerpts obtained by The Associated Press.
An American-made helicopter, the U.S. Army’s workhorse Chinook built by Boeing in Pennsylvania, was found to be “the most cost-effective single platform type fleet for the Afghan Air Force over a twenty year” period, according to the excerpts.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate’s No. 2 GOP leader and one of the most vocal critics of the contract, said the Department of Defense “repeatedly and disingenuously” used the study to prove the necessity of buying Mi-17s.
“So why are we buying Russian helicopters when there are American manufacturers that can meet that very same requirement?” Cornyn asked. “Makes no sense whatsoever and the Department of Defense has steadfastly refused to cooperate with reasonable inquiries into why in the world they continue to persist along this pathway.”