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 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.
The contract totals $690 million, most of which would go to the Russian arms maker, he added.
The Pentagon didn’t solicit bids from any other company for the helicopters. That “seems just plain stupid,” says Texas Senator John Cornyn, one of nine Republican and eight Democratic senators pressing the U.S. Department of Defense to cancel the deal.
John Pike, director of national security think tank GlobalSecurity.org, says Russia sold Mi-17s to other countries during the Cold War, and that companies other than Rosoboronexport should have secondhand models that could be refurbished: “The notion that you can’t come up with a couple dozen of these puppies in the used helicopter market is hard to believe.”
Read More: FrontPage Mag