Obama's Russian chopper deal for Afghanistan is a failure
The Donald Trump Pentagon, in so many words, is saying that the Obama administration’s decision to waive punitive sanctions and buy combat helicopters from Russia was a bad deal.The story also points to the lack fo quality control in Russia for its arms program. It was already clear that Obama made poor military decisions. This shows he also made poor procurement decisions as he tried to micromanage the war effort.
The Pentagon’s first congressionally required report on Afghanistan under President Trump says the Russian Mi-17 chopper has proved a failure in the long war and will be phased out in favor of American-made UH-60 Black Hawks.
The Obama administration came to realize the failure in its last weeks in office and stopped the deal.
The report this month on “Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan” marks official confirmation that the Russian model broke down too often for the Afghan air force logistics system to keep up.
“Along with the increased expense and difficulty in maintaining the Mi-17 helicopter fleet, utility helicopters are in high demand and the required maintenance exceeds current capacity and capability, leading to maintenance backlogs and a reduced number of aircraft available,” the Defense Department report said. “Included in the recapitalization effort is an initiative to transition the force away from Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters to more reliable, cost-effective, and easier to sustain U.S.-made UH-60 helicopters.”
The Mi-17 stood as an outlier in President Obama’s economic-sanction-filled assault on the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to his invasion of eastern Ukraine.
The administration allowed Rosoboronexport, the state-run arms broker, to stay off the sanctions list as it pertained to maintaining Mi-17s amid $554 million in U.S. funds via Afghanistan to supply the helicopter. The argument for the full deal was that Afghan pilots and crew members were more accustomed to Russian-made weapons systems.