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Rep. Wilson to Pentagon: Stop Buying Russian Military Supplies

Rep. Joe Wilson

The Defense Department will continue purchasing Russian-made military hardware and aircraft for Afghan military forces despite protests from lawmakers, The Hill reports.

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) called for the Pentagon to stop doing business with the Russian manufacturer Rosoboronexport, during a House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee hearing.

A bipartisan group of senators wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta dated March 12 advising the Pentagon to end its relationship with the Russian company, according to The Hill.

Wilson recommended the Army ship older Vietnam-era Huey helicopters to the Afghan military instead of buying new Russian-made, Mi-17 helicopters.

He said it would help clear U.S. surplus equipment.

Maj. Gen. William Crosby, head of Army aviation, told the subpanel that Mi-17s have been predominantly used in the Afghan battlefield since the Soviet invasion of the country in 1979, according to The Hill.

Crosby said it would require a substantial amount of training, cost, and time to re-train Afghan pilots to fly the Huey and other U.S.-made helicopters.

According to Crosby, the Huey is more complex to maneuver than the Mi-17 and it would be a challenge for Afghan soldiers.

Many of those soldiers have no ability to read or write, Crosby said.

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