U.S. to buy Russian helicopters

April 5, 2013 at 9:35 AM
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WASHINGTON, April 5 (UPI) -- The U.S. Defense Department, despite protests in Congress, will purchase more Mi-17 helicopters from a Russian company for use in Afghanistan, an official said.

"The Department of Defense 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 Special Mission Wing," RIA Novosti reported Pentagon spokesman James Gregory said in an email.

Ten lawmakers sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel March 25, urging him not to purchase additional helicopters from Rosoboronexport, a state-owned arms dealer, the report said.

The lawmakers argued the company is supplying weapons for Syria's government that are being used for crimes against civilians, Forbes reported.

The 2013 National Defense Authorization Act includes an amendment that prohibits contracts between the United States and Rosoboronexport, except when the secretary of defense determines the deal would be in the interest of national security, Forbes said.

"Given current time lines, the department has determined that Rosoboronexport is the only viable means of meeting ANSF requirements" for the helicopters, the Pentagon spokesman said.

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