|U.S. & Russia - Best Frenemies Forever
||[Nov. 12th, 2010|06:39 pm]
Great article from Foreign Policy Mag - How Not to Buy a Russian Helicopter.|
The U.S. purchase of Russian helicopters dates back to Cold War intrigue, when the Pentagon and intelligence community clandestinely procured Russian equipment in order to study its capabilities and figure out how to destroy it. As the Soviet Union broke apart and the U.S. Army's Russian helicopters emerged from the "black world," the Army's once secret Russian fleet found a new mission: operating as the opposing force, or OPFOR, in war games to train U.S. soldiers. Eventually, the helicopters also allowed the U.S. military to train with new NATO partners, like the Czech Republic, which used the Mi-17. After 9/11, when the United States found itself having to quickly re-equip local armies in Iraq and Afghanistan, both countries that flew Mi-17s, buying more Russian helicopters seemed like an expedient solution.
Since 9/11, the Pentagon has paid more than $1 billion to buy Russian military helicopters for its allies. Over 50 helicopters have been bought for Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to date. (Less talked about, though widely acknowledged and traceable through court documents and Federal Aviation Administration records, is that the CIA also has a fleet of Mi-17s registered to front companies. It has used the helicopters extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan, including during the 2001 Jawbreaker mission, when the CIA sent a team into Afghanistan to help cement support among tribal leaders for the U.S. invasion.)