Yet another piece of Russian military hardware is proving itself to be of a higher quality than those designed and built by American arms manufacturers.
Increasingly, the Russians are developing military components that far surpass the functionality of American made ones.
The most recent case is that of the Russian Mi-17 helicopter, which is being admitted by Pentagon officials as possessive of greater functional capabilities than the American Black Hawk helicopter.
What is interesting here is that this is an admission from the American DoD of this reality, rather than a statement made by the Russians or a Russian sympathizer with an interest in painting Russian military hardware as superior out of a sense of patriotism.
While the US government would seem to be the last entity likely to declare Russian military equipment superior to the Made in the USA variety, that changed recently when the Pentagon’s watchdog found that Russian choppers can perform missions in Afghanistan that US-made choppers cannot.
The US Defense Department inspector general discerned that Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky Aircraft Black Hawk helicopters “are unable to accommodate some of the larger items the Mi-17 can carry, and in general it takes almost two Black Hawks to carry the load of a single Mi-17.” The Mi-17, known under NATO reporting name “Hip,” is sold by Rosoboronexport.
While the US has been buying new Black Hawk helicopters for the Afghan Air Force, it turns out that some of a helicopter’s most pivotal duties — like carrying cargo — are performed better by Russian choppers, the inspector general found in the most recent quarterly assessment, published in May. May was also the first time a “Black Hawk was flown in an Afghanistan operation by the nascent air force,” Bloomberg News reported Thursday.
“Black Hawks do not have the lift capability” of the Mi-17s, DoD IG General Glenn Fine wrote in the assessment of US activities in Afghanistan. Bloomberg News appears to have been the first to notice the American general pointing out the Russian helicopter’s advantages over Lockheed Martin’s chopper.
In his assessment, Fine wrote that “unlike the Mi-17, Black Hawks cannot fly at high elevations and, as such, cannot operate in remote regions of Afghanistan where Mi-17s operate.”
Because of a politically motivated decision to stop buying Mi-17s in 2013, the Defense Department has started buying more Black Hawks, leaving the Russian helicopters to age. As those choppers grow older, the DoD plans to phase out all but 12 Mi-17s by 2022, down from 47 today.
But by phasing out the Russian aircraft in favor of the US aircraft, the aforementioned challenges “will become more pronounced,” according to the Pentagon’s inspector general.
The US purchases its arms from companies that seek first and foremost after the highest possible profit that it can acquire, and this oftentimes means that they cut corners in efforts to reduce costs and maximize profits, to the detriment of the overall quality of the products that it produces, while charging the US govt the highest prices that it can manage to justify, or lobby for.
This means that they invest must less into research and development, thereby updating designs with cutting edge capabilities, and also tend to make use of lower quality materials which are often cheaper. The outcome is that the US military ends up using hardware that simply doesn’t measure up in the current day military environment.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.