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    OPINION: Replacing Russian Helicopters in Afghanistan Would Cost US

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    The replacement of Russian helicopters with American ones in Afghanistan will be costly and quite troublesome for the Pentagon, Lajos Szaszdi, a defense analyst and expert in international affairs, told RIA Novosti Friday.

    WASHINGTON, April 25 (RIA Novosti), Lyudmila Chernova – The replacement of Russian helicopters with American ones in Afghanistan will be costly and quite troublesome for the Pentagon, Lajos Szaszdi, a defense analyst and expert in international affairs, told RIA Novosti Friday.

    “One of the reasons the Pentagon is asking Congress not to apply sanctions to Rosoboronservice is because they are less expensive than American or European made helicopters. Most importantly, the Afghan air force is accustomed to using Russian-made military equipment, including Mi-17 V5 helicopters, and their military pilots feel comfortable in them,” said Szaszdi.

    Szaszdi added that if the US-made helicopters are sent to Afghanistan, the pilots will have to be trained to use them.

    “Moreover, they will also need qualified personnel and special attention to maintain these helicopters, as they are considered to be more delicate and sophisticated than the Russian ones. Overall, it will all be very costly,” Szsaszdi said.

    The analyst also noted that in case Ukraine decides not to supply engines to Russian manufactures of helicopters, there are plans to produce the engines in Russia.

    “Russia would be able to make up for them itself and that will not be a problem. The greatest obstacle for the Pentagon will be if Congress will decide not to make an exception and the decision will be very much linked to events in Ukraine,” said Szsaszdi.

    The Pentagon earlier asked the US Congress not to impose any sanctions on Rosoboronexport in order for the US to continue purchases of Russian Mi-17 helicopters for Afghanistan.

    On Thursday, US President Barack Obama threatened Russia with tougher sanctions if the situation in Ukraine continues to escalate. The US and EU earlier imposed sanctions against Moscow over its reunification with Crimea, a former region of Ukraine, that held a referendum in March, where 96 per cent of population voted for integration with Russia.

    Leaders of the G7 countries have threatened Moscow with tougher sanctions against key sectors of Russian economy. Moscow has repeatedly stated that the language of sanctions is "inappropriate and counterproductive."

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