(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3) applauded a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 (NDAA) that will indefinitely cancel a contract for Mi-17 helicopters the U.S. Department of Defense has with Rosoboronexport, a Russian state-owned company that also sells arms to Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian regime. DOD planned to buy 15 additional helicopters in 2014 but the NDAA provision cancels this contract and future contracts with Rosoboronexport.
Blumenthal said, “Even as Bashar al-Assad was slaughtering his own people, United States taxpayers were indirectly funding his civil war via the billion dollars spent through Rosoboronexport to buy Russian Mi-17 helicopters. At long last, the NDAA cancels this wrong and wasteful contract – a contract that I have consistently sought to stop. Now, we've driven a stake through it, convincing a bipartisan coalition that this deal contravenes our military and moral interests as a nation. I am pleased the NDAA saves the taxpayer $345 million that would have been given to Russia and requires DOD to report to Congress on which American helicopters should be used to support the Afghan mission. If helicopters are bought with American taxpayer dollars, they ought to be American made – from Sikorsky, the best in the world. This contract shows again the need for reforming our procurement and contracting process.”
“The bill being sent to the President continues the ban on Pentagon helicopter purchases from Russia's arms dealer, Rosoboronexport, which I have long fought for and recently led to the Defense Department's cancellation of a planned contract with the firm,” DeLauro said. “I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure taxpayer dollars do not support Russia's arms dealer and in turn the Assad regime, while pushing for any future helicopter purchases for the Afghans to be competitively bid so US workers and companies can compete.”