US Still Buying 90 Russian Helicopters for Afghanistan in Spite of Sanctions against Russia

America builds some of the best helicopters in the world, a number of which are used by the military.  My favorite is the AH-64 Apache which was built in my hometown of Mesa, Arizona for a number a years.  At one time there wasn’t a day go by that I didn’t see at least one Apache helicopter being test flown in the area.  Originally built by McDonald Douglas, the Apache became the property of the Boeing Company after a merger of the two companies and then Boeing sold off McDonald Douglas.

There are a variety of other US made helicopters that are used by our military as gunships, troop transports, equipment transport and medical evacuation.  All toll, the manufacturing of these helicopters creates jobs for thousands of Americans and helps the US economy.

So when the United States started pulling out of Afghanistan and promised to purchase 90 military helicopters for them to use to defend themselves with, you would expect the Pentagon to award the contract to an American helicopter company, wouldn’t you.

But that’s not the case.  Instead of helping the US economy and job market, our faithful and loyal Pentagon decides to purchase 90 Russian made helicopters.  Not only is a multi-billion contract being awarded to a Russian company, but so is the more than a billion contract for parts and maintenance.

In the wake of the sanctions that President Obama is trying to impose on Russia, the purchase of Russian helicopters is still on.  Former US Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) and former Chairperson of the House Intelligence Committee, said it seems to be defeating purpose of the sanctions to go through with the sale.

Appearing on Newsmax TV’s America’s Forum, Hoekstra told host JD Hayworth, former US Rep from Arizona:

“As we’re leaving, the Afghan military, they’re looking for helicopters.  They want about 90 attack helicopters. All right. You say, ‘Hey, great! They’re going to be buying 90 helicopters, that’s going to be putting a lot of Americans to work.’

“Wrong. They’re buying Russian helicopters for the Afghan military, and the interesting thing about helicopters is that they’re high-maintenance. So, not only are we buying about a billion dollars’ worth of Russian helicopters, but we’re also providing the Russian military industrial complex, the people that build these helicopters, we’re providing them with maintenance contracts that are multiple numbers of this one billion.”

This deal to purchase Russian helicopters for Afghanistan has been in the works for a couple years.  Congress tried to stop the deal because of Russia’s involvement with Syria, but Obama just bypassed the congressional appropriations restrictions and went ahead with the deal.  Hoekstra commented further on this saying:

“Obama just forgot about those restrictions and went beyond them.”

“So now we’ve got the Russians in Syria, we’ve got them in Ukraine, they’re creating mischief all over the place, and we’re buying Russian helicopters to give to the Afghans and the biggest promoter of this is the U.S. Pentagon.”

Hoekstra then pointed out that since Obama eliminated NASA’s shuttle and Constellation programs that all of our astronauts and satellites have to rely on Russia to launch them into space.  What kind of sense does it make to have Russia launching our spy satellites for us?

Hoekstra added:

“Are we sanctioning those companies? Canceling these purchases? Did we cancel the purchase of these helicopters? Absolutely not.”

“You just wonder why wouldn’t the Pentagon go out right now and say, ‘We’re sorry, the balance of the helicopter contract is cancelled’? On one hand, we’re saying sanctions, on the other hand we’re buying lots of Russian products that are fueling and enriching the very people that we’re trying to sanction, it makes no sense.”

“I don’t think you go after one person here.  The Obama administration, you know, on foreign policy, on national security issues, they leave a lot to be desired.”

Remember during the 2012 presidential campaign when Obama kept accusing Romney of sending jobs overseas?  Isn’t his bypassing Congress to spend billions on Russian helicopters along with their maintenance even worse?  Obama didn’t send jobs overseas, he just ignored American companies and workers all together.  And now that we are placing sanctions on Russia for their actions in the Ukraine, I hope Congress has the cajonies to do what’s right and stop the purchase.  Why should we borrow money from China in order to buy helicopters for Afghanistan? Let the Afghans buy their own helicopters.