Speaking Out Against RD-180 Purchases

Get Putin Out of Our Rockets, Roll Call

"But ULA isn't happy with these restrictions and has been using its influence in Congress to push back. Indeed, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., whose district houses a major ULA factory has introduced a bill rolling back the limits on Russian engines. At the same time, ULA has decided to limit production of its American-made Delta IV launcher in an effort to strong arm the U.S. military into purchasing the RD-180 until at least 2020. This underhanded tactic might benefit ULA, but it'll endanger U.S. security while enriching Russia. ULA is able to execute such a ploy because of its long monopoly on rockets for national-security launches. America's interests would be far better served if we leveraged our existing, homegrown alternatives and encouraged U.S. technology and engineering companies to re-join the global space race."

Keith's note: Sen. John McCain raised the issue of continued purchase of Russian RD-180 engines on the Senate floor yesterday.

Transcript below (edited for typos)

"I'd like to mention -- and I appreciate the indulgence of my friend from Rhode Island -- about the issue of Russian rocket engines. Less than six months after the prohibition was enacted in last year's ndaa, which would end the use of RD-180 on military space lunches by 2019, the administration has stated they want access to 14 more Russian rocket engines. Agreeing to the administration's request endorsing another eight years of Russian rocket engines and over $300 million for Vladimir Putin and his cronies.

We must not reward Vladimir Putin and the Russian military industrial complex. We cannot in good conscience agree to reward the Russian military industrial base with over $300 million in rocket engines while they occupy Crimea, destabilize Ukraine, send weapons to Iran and violent the 1987 inter intermediate nuclear forces treaty.

The bill before us would limit the use of Russian rocket engines and restate the commitment to end the use of Russian engines for national security space launches by 2019. There are some who want to continue our nation's dependence on Russian rocket engines? The ndaa would put an end to this dependence and stop hundreds of millions of dollars from going to Vladimir Putin. We can meet our national security space needs without Russia, and we must lead by example by eliminating our dependence as quickly as possible -- as quickly as possible and fostering competition.

I say to my colleagues, we have two launch providers --ULA and SpaceX, who will be able to provide full redundant capabilities by 2017 with the Delta VI and the Falcon Heavy. The Atlas V is not going anywhere soon. As "The New York Times" editorial board stated last week "after leaning on France to cancel the sale of two ships to Russia because of the invasion of the Ukraine, the United States can hardly insist on continuing to buy national security hardware from one of Mr. Putin's cronies."

Comrade capitalism, "murky pentagon deal with Russia, big profit for a time -- Florida firm." ULA's dealings are Russia are questioning. The Reuters investigation this past November on the RD-180 raises troubling issues regarding the businesses and shell companies that facilitate the purchase of Russian rocket engines. The report describes a five-person company called RD Amross, a joint venture between a Russian manufacturer and Rocketdyne, that collects cost markups. The article uncovers in the past RD Amross was investigated had by the defense contract management agency which determined that in a previous contract that RD Amross had collected $80 million in unallowable excessive pass-thru charges. The article titled "comrade capitalism" also exposed the role that senior politicians and close friends of Vladimir Putin play in the Energomash argument. According to a Russian audit of the Russian manufacturer, funds were being captured by unnamed offshore intermediary companies.

Now, Mr. President, I just want to say that there is no argument. There is no argument for the continued purchase of these rocket engines from the Russians, from Vladimir Putin and his cronies. One of whom is involved in the management, who has been sanctioned by the United States of America. I have confidence that America is capable of building our own rocket engines, and I am confident that we can do that in a reasonable period of time, like one to two years. For us to commit to continued use of these rocket engines and making millions and millions of dollars -- in this case $300 million -- for Vladimir Putin and his cronies is -

The question has to be asked of individuals who want to continue the purchase of these rocket engines from this Russian shell company, why do you want to help Vladimir Putin? Why do you want to help Vladimir Putin and his cronies by giving them as much as $300 million? That is a legitimate question. And if parliamentary any of my colleagues who support this unlimited, basically or tinged purchase of rocket engines from Russia rather than having it terminated at a reasonable and very short time, that question has to be asked. Why are you helping Vladimir Putin? Why are you helping his cronies? That is a legitimate question, and if any of my colleagues try to force this continued purchase, unnecessary purchase of Russian rocket engines, that question needs to be asked of them."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on June 12, 2015 7:04 AM.

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