Jeremy Hobson: Well it would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, but the Pentagon has signed a contract to buy Russian helicopters. The choppers were designed specifically for the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, as Peter van Dyk reports from Moscow.
Peter van Dyk: The deal for 21 helicopters for the Afghan Army is worth $375 million. Although there was opposition from both the U.S. defense sector and Congress, the deal is a no-brainer for Russia.
Military expert Alexander Golts, the deputy editor of the Yezhednevniyi Zhurnal online newspaper, says Afghan pilots already know the Mi-17 helicopters.
Alexander Golts: It’s much easier to deal with them than with American or Italian helicopters or with any other.
But the clincher? The price: Russian helicopters are cheaper than U.S. or European rivals.
Golts: It’s a good deal for the Pentagon, and for Russia as well I think.
Certainly, Russia is happy — a top Kremlin aide says so. And although U.S. soldiers aren’t going to be firing Kalashnikovs or flying MiG fighters anytime soon, Golts says Washington’s need to re-equip its new allies in Afghanistan and Iraq mean there could be more such deals in the future.
In Moscow, I’m Peter van Dyk for Marketplace.
We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.
Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.
In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.
Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.