U.S. military criticized for purchase of Russian helicopters for Afghan air corps

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Washington, June 19(ANI): The U.S. government's decision to spend 648 million dollars to buy or refurbish Russian helicopters for the Afghan National Army Air Corps has been drawing flak from some members of the US Congress.

The U.S. Defense Department is also seeking to buy 10 more of the Mi-17s next year, and plans to buy dozens more over the next decade.

However, some Congress members have criticised the move and have called for the use of American choppers.

"The Mi-17 program either has uncoordinated oversight or simply none at all," The Washington Post quoted Senator Richard C. Shelby, as saying.

"The results have led to massive waste, cost overruns, schedule delays, safety concerns and major delivery problems," he added.

Shelby along with Senator Christopher J. Dodd has also pushed the Pentagon to reconsider its purchase plans.

The U.S. military has been trying to resurrect the Afghan National Army Air Corps since 2005, when it consisted of a few dozen pilots and a handful of frail Mi-17s.

The Pentagon had decided to make the Mi-17s the backbone of Afghanistan's fleet because Afghan airmen had historically trained on Russian choppers.

Russia specifically designed Mi-17 for use in Afghanistan, and U.S. officials claim that it is well-suited for navigating the altitudes of the Hindu Kush mountains, as well as Afghanistan's desert terrain. (ANI)

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