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U.S. Watchdog Urges Delay On Russian-Afghan Helicopter Deal

A U.S. government watchdog has criticized the Pentagon over a deal in which the United States is buying Russian-made helicopters for Afghanistan’s military.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction says in a new report that the Afghan Special Mission Wing lacks the troops and expertise to operate and maintain the aircraft, and that the deal could wind up as a boondoggle that wastes American dollars.

The report recommends delaying the purchase of the aircraft until the Afghans develop the capacity to use them properly.

The Pentagon announced on June 17 that the Russian state-run Rosoboroneksport arms exporter had been awarded a $554 million contract for 30 Mi-17 helicopters.

The Pentagon is also planning to spend $218 million for 18 planes from a U.S. firm for Afghanistan’s military.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP