Senators concerned over chopper procurement from Russian firm

Expressing concern over ongoing procurement of helicopters from a Russian firm, which is providing weapons to the Assad regime in Syria, a group of top 12 Senators have sought cancellation of all contracts awarded to the company.

Washington: Expressing concern over ongoing procurement of helicopters from a Russian firm, which is providing weapons to the Assad regime in Syria, a group of top 12 Senators have sought cancellation of all contracts awarded to the company.

"We write to express deep concern over support for the ongoing Department of Defence (DoD) procurement of helicopters from Rosoboronexport, the Russian Federation`s official arms export firm.

"We also express concern over DoD`s seeming blindness to the real risk of both Russian corruption in these deals and over-reliance on a potentially hostile power," the Senators wrote in a letter to General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"You are on the record, as recently as your Senate reconfirmation hearing on July 18, saying that we should `stay the course with the existing programme.` In the interests of national security and proper stewardship of taxpayer dollars, we ask you to reconsider," the Senators wrote.

According to the Senators led by Senator John Cornyn, who is also co-chair of the Senate Indian Caucus, the DoD in June awarded Rosoboronexport a USD 572 million contract for procurement of 30 more Mi-17 helicopters for the Afghan Special Mission Wing.

The decision ignored the recommendation of the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) to halt this procurement, they said.

SIGAR, in its June 28 report, had cast doubt on validity of the requirement for the aircraft, providing ample evidence that it is based on unrealistic and outdated projections.

PTI

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