Mi-17 Helicopter Purchases Raise Questions

    December 8, 2013
    Toni Matthews-El
    Comments are off for this post.

The Associated Press is reporting that the United States Pentagon just spent roughly $1 billion on dozens of Russian Mi-17 rotorcrafts. Previously it had been reported that there was a great amount of difficulty in securing a deal and there was some speculation that it might not happen.

The helicopters were purchased for the Afghan military, and it was claimed that the decision was made with long-term goals in mind. There are plans to withdraw U.S troops from the region at some point, though not in the immediate future. The ability to reduce the role American forces are playing in Afghanistan will hinge on the ability for the local military forces to have the training and equipment they need to combat terrorist forces in the region. Afghan forces require helicopters that would be able to transfer supplies and troops with little or no difficulty.

Defense officials claim that because of Afghanistan’s unique climate and landscape, the Russian rotorcrafts are best suited to the task. The Chinook, an American helicopter, has long been proven to be of great international quality. It’s existence makes it hard to understand the need to go abroad for military helicopters.

Texas Senator John Cornyn was especially vocal about his opposition to the deal. “Why are we buying Russian helicopters when there are American manufacturers that can meet that very same requirement?” Much of the concern with the decision to go to Russia is the corrupt nature of the Russian defense industry. The refusal of the Department of Defense to be more transparent about the maneuver to buy these helicopters made some think that they were purposefully misleading Congress about the deal. The Department of Defense denied it, and former Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter had cited a study about the superior nature of Russian Mi-17 rotorcrafts. Carter stepped down a week ago.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

  • Patrick Abicht

    If I read this correctly the Congressmen are concerned as to why purchase Russian helicopters instead of helicopters from out own defense contractors. To them it seems to be a matter of where the money goes, afterall the report showed the Chinook was superior to the Mi-17.
    Consider though would anyone really want U.S. military equipment in the service of a nation that could easily fall back into Al Qaeda or Taliban control? Consider if this happens and those same helicopters are used in an attack. Eye witness accounts will say Americans attacked since it was American equipment. It would be much harder to blame Americans when non-U.S. equipment is used.
    I think the true reason for the Congressmen being upset is the loss of defense dollars to companies in their home state. While upsetting it was those same Congressmen who allowed budget cuts to affect their states in the first place.

    • myke c

      Our tax Dollars should Stay Here For OUR US Companies.. I Want My Tax money to stay here. Not in Russia, We need The Work here… Our Congress R just a Big bunch of Dummies!!!!!

      • Reality 101

        “Our congress” didn’t make this decision. The OBAMA administration did. Obama controls the military, and it’s expenditures. Obama has been selling us out for YEARS.

      • http://nymas.org Tom Wisker

        Rubbish. See my additional reply posts. Happy Holidays, regardless!

      • http://nymas.org Tom Wisker

        Oh, stop it. Have couple of beers. Be well. Don’t go nutzo.

    • jerome

      Read your comment. I’m against leaving anything behind because we know that as soon as the kitchen gets a little hot, the leadership of Afgan will take a hike and settle down in their cozy condo’s in London (purchased with our aid money). To leave them anything is an issue, but to purchase Russian equipment for them. We had to fight against Russian equipment the first time we invaded, so this makes even less sense. Come on man, that’s a pretty sad excuse.

      • Reality 101

        Yes, but A.) We are giving $1 BILLION to Russia; B.) Russia’s technology is constantly being improved; C.) We are funding those improvements; D.) It is costing our economy and workforce; E.) If we wanted to, we could give them scaled back technology of our own; and F.) Afghanistan is NOT an ally. Their military was complicit in concealing Bin Laden, and any country that can afford to build and service its own nukes can afford to take care of itself. They are extorting us.

        • http://nymas.org Tom Wisker

          I don’t understand the conflating of Russia and Afghanistan in your post …Get a grip.
          Mi-17 is the best choice for Afghanistan, and can be delivered fairly quickly. Simple aircraft (for a turbine bird), and it can be contractor-supported by Poland, a friend of ours. Parts and advisor/instructors, too..
          Scaled-back US technology would require billions in engineering contracts ($$$$$!!!!!).
          See my other posts on this article. Have you ever been aboard an Mi-8/Mi-17? I thought not. Good solid bird.

          • Richard Van Dyke Sr

            Yes I have been on that bird and many others but that is not the real issue. The real issue is our ONE BILLION dolars for the purchase of these birds and what will we the public “unkowingly” purchase per orders of this farce in the white house. While he shoves Obamacare down our throats?

    • bill c

      Of course this makes total sense and Patrick explained why. We aren’t about to give the Afghan military our state of the art equipment. Let them fly those Russian pieces of shit.

    • @Patrick

      We created Al-Qaeda. We financed them with 3 billion dollars. Al-Qaeda is manipulated by the CIA.

      The Pentagon also lost 2.3 Trillion dollars (see Rumsfield speech the day before 9/11) and the FED lost 9 Trillion dollars.

      Everything about the US Government is smoke and mirrors. You never know who is financing whom or who really pulls the strings.

    • http://nymas.org Tom Wisker

      The Afghans already operate the Mi-17 in significant numbers. To introduce a new aircraft would be a logistical nightmare. In poor countries, finding pilot candidates is relatively easy; finding guys who can tweak turbine engines is a nightmare. And let us not even bring up the subject of maintaining “glass cockpit” systems in such an environment.
      The Chinook is a far more complex and better aircraft (no argument there), but they would not be able to maintain them, given the new unfamiliar airframe and twin-rotor drive train. And then, the unfamiliar high-performance engines … Mi-17 is the right choice. Opposition seems to be characterized by a complete ignorance of aviation in general, willful ignorance of actual conditions in Afghanistan, a defensiveness of their boys Bush, Cheney, et al who got us into this mess, and a resolute belief that this war should be a cash cow for the US defense industry. And let us not ignore the psychotic Obama-hatred syndrome. This was a good decision, and any other President would have been supported. But, not THIS one. –Tom Wisker

    • http://nymas.org Tom Wisker

      The Afghans would not be able to maintain the Chinook. So, it’s moot. A lot of people think this war should be a cash cow for American contractors (check out the alleged “C-27” transports (a couple of dozen) sitting derelict an Bagram Air Base. Actually retired decrepit ex-Italian AF G.222 transports, they turned out to be inoperable. (Halliburton, anyone?)This Mi-17 phony “crisis” is just another right-wing attack on the Obama Administration by the Tea Klux Klan. Get real, people!

      • http://bing Patrick

        Tom, you seem to be the only one who gets it.

    • DJ Jacobs

      Gotta agree with you on this, somewhat. Remember: Iran was an ally at one time, too. All changed in 1979, and Iran had some U.S. military arms & equipment – most notable the F-14 Tomcat – in their arsenal. The same Mujahideen fighters that U.S. Special Ops & CIA clandestine operatives trained/equipped to fight the Soviets in Afganistan in the 1980s morphed into al-Queda (Osama bin Laden included) and look at how much trouble we’ve been having with them to this day, even after bin Laden’s death!

  • jerome

    We have to be the dumbest nation on earth. We elected there officials. Who ever made this decision should be shot. As a taxpaying citizen to see my money go overseas makes me mad as hell. We have defense contractors who employ Americans, but noooooooo we buy Russian made equipment. The arrogancia that rule this banana republic needs to hung for this. I love America, I love the American people, but who in their right mind could trust this gang of thugs? Come on man, there is no way anyone can expect the American people to take this sitting down.

    • Reality 101

      Obama controls the military, so the decision was ultimately HIS. But why should he care? It’s not his money, and he’s going to skate out of the White House a rich man. His parting word to the American people will be: “SUCKERS!”

    • http://nymas.org Tom Wisker

      Another right-wing primitive who loves the idea of war being a cah cow for his side. Mi-17 is a good aircraft, and more suitable for a country with limited resources than a more complex US bird.
      If this has become a Banana Republic, you and your ilk are ghe bananas!

  • disgusted

    We need to arm ourselves and take back this country…we need someone to organize this

    • http://nymas.org Tom Wisker

      Get a grip. Take three of four Sam Adams or some heavy inhales of a decent cheap Chardonnay, and call me in the morning. All of us rats are sharing the same cramped little maze, and the notion of sinking the “other guy’s” end of the boat while your end still floats is silly.
      Join Habitat For Humanity… you will do good, most especially for yourself. Vitriol poisons more than out targets… I know.
      Be well

  • Reality 101

    The study showed that the U.S. helicopters were the BETTER choice, period. They analyzed both cost AND performance together, and came to this conclusion.

    Obama is in charge of the U.S. military, and its expenditures.

    Blame Obama.

    He’s been giving away your farm for years, and will continue to do so.

    • http://nymas.org Tom Wisker

      This is rubbish, you fool!
      The “cmparison assumed support personnel from an advanced machine/tech-oriented culture; it was promulgated by the defense contractors, with insider support from military people looking for sinecures in their “golden years”.

      All the attacks on the Mi-17 contract that I have seen are purely right-wing partisan… every single one. How many of these people couple tell a Chinook, a Mi-17, a twinkie, or a fire hydrant from each other? None, I reckon.

      • Richard Van Dyke Sr

        You sir are one arrogant (being nice) individual who thinks you are so much smarter than us poor beknighted people that you have to suffer with. Well sir I know the smell of a rat when I smell one and right now the odor is overwhelming your just adding to it.

  • http://interia.pl Collie Goldie

    For all who disseegree with this decission I propose to talk to congressman Kissinger, because he spends more time in Russia than in US or any other part of the world. The Mi-17 is absolutley the best for Afgans in all the complexicity of the decission. The US conterpart would be CH-53G and US is not ready to sell it to Afgans, which would improve the employment. It is clear political decission, without US employment part and clear suport for Russians.

  • Kris

    Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, a high-ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said the arrangement has put American taxpayers in the intolerable position of subsidizing a company complicit in the atrocities occurring in Syria……

    Has the ranking democrap turned a blind eye to the murderous actions of our military around the globe? Not to mention obama’s penchant to kill innocent civilians en mass with drones? Americans are such blind hypocrites.

    • http://nymas.org Tom Wisker

      The Afghans need this aircraft, with delivery ASAP. They already fly the bird, and can maintain it; these are used for gov’t transportation and medevac as well as direct troop support given the total lack of alternatives.
      The TeaKluxKlan’s attempt to kill this program shows where they are coming from, i.e., that a nonwhite’s presence in the White House is inherently illegitimate and an abomination (unless he’s sweeping the floor or serving drinks).
      TeaKluxers, your political future will be short.

      • Richard Van Dyke Sr

        Now I see where you are coming from. Anyone that opposes your obvious hero is a racist. Well consider me the biggest racist in the USA then. I served my country with distinction for over 20 years and never once did I make a distinction between black or white just could/would they have my back. I more than dislike this individual in the White House for what his anti-American policies have done to the country I love. Stick your racist crap where the sun doesn’t shine.

  • Floyd

    The MIL-17 (MI-17) is a very good aircraft. Many countries in the world are purchasing MI-17’s and dumping the US CH-47’s because they are costly and parts, repair and overhaul of CH-47’s are covered under ITAR (International Trade In Arms Regulations). ITAR limits the availability of parts and services to foreign governments. IRAN, EGYPT, Saudi ARABIA and many other countries have CH-47’s. IRAN needs parts for CH-47’s, they have more than 20 aircraft. If Afghanistan obtains US Made heavy lift aircraft (CH-47’s) then they may end up in IRAN. This is a very important reason why the US is not providing CH-47’s to Afghanistan. Other reasons include price. MI-17’s are cheap compared to CH-47’s and maintenance is a fraction of that of a CH-47. I was told that for every 1 hr of flight time on a CH-47 there is 4 hrs. of maintenance. Guess who would foot the bill to the expensive maintenance of these aircraft (the US.)

  • njr

    This is a totally ill-informed and poorly-framed piece, and most responses have been totally fitting with that. Old Soviet style equipment is cheaper per unit than their American counterparts, and there are two reasons for this. First, they are simple designs; second, they the exchange rate for Russian currency also makes purchases well worthwhile.

    One big reason is even more important than initial costs: sustainability (and not the environmental kind). Look at the militaries of most South American and African countries. The more complex the equipment, the sooner it ends up as scrap. Mechanically rugged and simple devices are best for developing countries. This is even more necessary for aircraft, half of which that belong to developing countries soon end up grounded and never take off again. If you were more interested in providing for Afghan security than making a quick buck, this purchase makes total sense.

  • stan Whisman

    Referb some of the Viet Nam era choppers. Sending tax dollars to Russia for the benefit of Afgans is a double slap in the face…come on guys, get your heads outa your butts !

  • timy

    Obama is the Anti-Christ and needs to be impeached-NOW,before it’s to late. He isn’t an American nor does he have our best interests at heart.

  • http://yahoo Denise

    Really – this is what we are spending our taxpayer money on. I think that money could be desperately used to help out our own people, not supplying weapons to another country’s military. what a waste of money – and we the taxpayers should have a vote if we want out money to be spent that way. I’m betting not.