MILFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) – A Connecticut congresswoman is demanding to know why the Pentagon maintains its contracts with a Russian arms exporter, particularly in the wake of recent events in Ukraine.
The U.S. Department of Defense maintains that Russian-made helicopters like the MI-17 are the best for Afghan forces, WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reported.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro called Tuesday for a ban on the U.S. purchasing such helicopters for Afghan forces.
“Particularly after Vladimir Putin’s recent behavior, we should not be filling the coffers of Russian arms dealers,” DeLauro said.
DeLauro maintains U.S. manufacturers would be better suited for such contracts, including Connecticut-based Sikorsky. Sikorsky bills itself as “Designers and builders of the world’s most advanced helicopters for commercial, industrial, and military use.”
“That creates jobs and grows the economy in the state of Connecticut,” DeLauro said.
Milford-based Spectrum Associates, Inc. does about half its business with Sikorsky, making components for them.
“It is surprising that the U.S. Defense Department would use their funds to purchase helicopters from a Russian manufacturer,” said Richard Meisenheimer, Spectrum’s president. “I’m confident that not only would the Sikorsky aircraft perform better than the MIL-17, but so would Bell and Boeing aircraft.”
Defense officials told TheHill.com that canceling contracts could have a catastrophic effect as the U.S. mission in Afghanistan winds down, Murnane reported.
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