Rosoboronexport’s Ties With Syria, Iran May Hinder Afghan Helicopter Deal
12:00 AM, June 19, 2012
Earlier last year, Rosoboronexport was awarded a nearly $1 billion contract to provide Afghanistan with 21 non-attack Mi-17 helicopters. A group of U.S Senators are now attacking this deal and calling on the Congress to end the DoD’s contract with the Russian arms-maker because of its dealings with Syria. The U.S government has earlier sanctioned Rosoboronexport between 2006 through 2010 for assisting Iran’s nuclear program. Since 2010, the Syrian Government had acquired lethal aircraft and weapons worth billions of dollars from Rosoboronexport which may have been used to kill civilians. The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has raised concerns indicating that the U.S has been over priced for the helicopters. A previous Navy deal with a company called Defense Technology cost only $10.8 million for each Mi-17 helicopter while Rosoboronexport charged the U.S approximately $16.4 million per chopper. While it is unclear if Rosoboronexport is still supplying arms to Iran, the company maintains what it calls a ‘cooperative’ and ‘dynamic’ relationship with Syria. The company plans to continue its Syrian deals until the U.N Security Council imposes sanctions. Although the Pentagon has vehemently defended its ties with Rosoboronexport, POGO is calling for a serious examination of the contract and is asking the Congress to ‘hold the DoD accountable in enforcing contracting law that requires contractors to be responsible’.