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According to US deputy defence secretary Ashton Carter, the defence department “has an urgent, near-term need to purchase an additional 30 new military-use MI-17 helicopters” to equip Afghanistan’s counter-terrorism forces.
The contract for the Russian helicopters is worth $690 million.
This announcement comes despite the US Congress ban to purchase military equipment from “a country that supplies weapons to the Syrian government, which is responsible for the deaths of thousands of peaceful civilians.”
The decision to buy more Russian military equipment for use in Afghanistan is also at odds with US President Barack Obama’s plans to reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan from 66,000 to 34,000 over the year.
According to Carter, US considers it will be “in the public interest to procure the MI-17s needed” from the Russian firm.
Despite numerous attempts to find an alternative to the Russian helicopters used since 1980’s, MI-17 helicopters were found to be the best option to use in Afghanistan, as the staff are familiar with Russian equipment.
Carter also said the helicopters would be purchased with funds approved in fiscal year 2012 so the prohibition would not apply.
Earlier the US Army signed a $375 million contract with Rosoboronexport to procure 21 Russian-made MI-17 helicopters.
And in July last year they agreed to purchase another 10 helicopters worth $171 million.
Rosoboronexport is the sole Russian state intermediary agency responsible for imports and exports of the full range of defence and dual-use end products, technologies and services.
It is the only company that has the right to supply the world market with a full range of arms and military equipment manufactured by Russia’s defense industrial complex and approved to be exported.
Rosoboronexport accounts for more than 80 per cent of Russia’s arms exports and cooperates with more than 70 countries.
Daria Chernyshova with inputs from Agencies