Pentagon orders review of Russian engines on US rockets
Iran Press TV
Sat Mar 22, 2014 9:50AM GMT
The Pentagon has asked Air Force officials to review whether Russian-built engines used on US military rockets pose a national security risk to the United States.
A joint venture by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co., called the United Launch Alliance, has been using Russian-built RD-180 rocket engines on Atlas V rockets which launch US military satellites into space.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made the announcement for review last week at a congressional subcommittee hearing after the annexation of Ukraine's Crimea into the Russian Federation, Bloomberg News reports.
Hagel also said that there would be a thorough reassessment of US-Russian relations. The US and Europe announced sanctions against Russia for its actions in Crimea.
In light of the recent developments, the Pentagon is concerned that the joint venture group might be put in a position where it has to rely on military equipment from a potential future enemy.
Aside from national security concerns, the review is in line with Washington's decision to scrap any existing contracts among businesses that work with Russia.
However, Pentagon officials have estimated that it would cost the US as much as $1 billion and take up to five years to build the engines domestically, Maureen Schumann, a Pentagon spokeswoman told Bloomberg via email.
"The department had recently completed an assessment of the use of foreign components" including the RD-180 engine, Schumann said.
"In light of the current situation, we have directed the Air Force perform an additional review to ensure we completely understand the implications, including supply interruptions, of using foreign components", she added.
The US Congress has also renewed its demand for the Pentagon to cancel a contract for Russian-made helicopters for the Afghan government.
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