(Hartford, CT) –U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-3) issued a joint statement today calling for immediate cancellation of the wasteful and misguided military contract to purchase helicopters from Russian state-arms dealer Rosoboronexport, following the release of a Department of Defense Inspector General report today that found the U.S. Army’s aviation unit improperly administered the repair and maintenance of Mi-17 helicopters for Pakistan and additional press reports that the same Army aviation unit sought to circumvent normal contracting procedures during the acquisition of 21 Mi-17 helicopters for Afghanistan. The helicopters in question were purchased for the Afghan National Forces for anti-narcotics and counterterrorism operations from the Russian state-owned export agency Rosoboronexport, as part of multi-year $1 billion sole-source contracts deemed “highly imprudent” by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction. A recent SIGAR report found that the Afghan military could neither operate nor afford to maintain the helicopters. Blumenthal and DeLauro have been outspoken critics of the program.
“These latest allegations of wrongdoing are deeply troubling and must be fully investigated and prosecuted if warranted. They also underscore our urgent call that the wasteful and misguided contract with Rosoboronexport be immediately cancelled. These sole-source contracts for Russian-made helicopters have always been an unconscionable waste of taxpayer money. To learn now of the Army’s gross mishandling of this program just underscores this point. Further, Rosoboronexport continues to sell arms to Syria for the murder and slaughter of their own people. With revelations of a criminal investigation, this imprudent and harmful contract has now reached new lows we thought impossible. We reiterate and amplify our call to the Department of Defense to immediately cancel this contract and stop this waste and abuse today,” Blumenthal and DeLauro stated.