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U.S.-Russia helicopter deal hits turbulance

By Associated Press
Published On: Dec 09 2013 06:20:48 AM CST
Updated On: Dec 09 2013 06:30:21 AM CST
WASHINGTON -

The deal looked sketchy from the start.
    
To outfit Afghanistan's national security forces with new helicopters, the Pentagon turned to Moscow for dozens of Russian-made Mi-17 rotorcraft at a cost of more than $1 billion.
    
Senior military officials assured skeptical members of Congress they'd made the right call. They said a top-secret study confirmed the Mi-17 as the superior choice.
    
But in excerpts of the study obtained by The Associated Press, it turns out that an American chopper made by Boeing, the Chinook, is the most cost-effective helicopter for the Afghan Air Force.
    
Lawmakers are stunned and accuse the Pentagon of misleading them. And some wonder why the U.S. is buying a Russian aircraft in the first place.
    
The Pentagon has declined to comment, though it has defended the decision to buy Mi-17s in the past.

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