Why is the U.S. Buying Russian Helicopters?


To outfit Afghanistan's security forces with new helicopters, the Pentagon bypassed U.S. companies and turned instead to Moscow for dozens of Russian Mi-17 rotorcraft at a cost of more than $1 billion.

"So why are we buying Russian helicopters when there are American manufacturers (Boeing) that can meet that very same requirement?" [Sen. John] 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."

On top of all that, corruption is rampant in Russia's defense industry, heightening concerns that crooked government officials and contractors are lining their pockets with American money.

"We're not dealing with a corrupt system. Corruption is the system," said Stephen Blank, a Russia expert at the American Foreign Policy Council, a Washington think tank. "This is not a world we're familiar with."