WASHINGTON, August 30 (RIA Novosti) - The Pentagon has opened a criminal investigation of a US Army aviation unit which granted contracts worth tens of millions of dollars to Russian and US firms for maintenance and overhaul of Russian helicopters, Reuters reported.
Defense Department investigators are studying potential personal connections and possibly “improper” payments between the former head of the Army’s Non-Standard Rotary Wing Aircraft (NSRWA) unit and two Russian-owned subcontractors, Reuters said Thursday.
The maintenance deals are part of a broader Pentagon program to purchase and upgrade Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters for use in Afghanistan, it said. That program, also run by the NSRWA, has faced stern opposition from some member of the US Congress.
The report named the recipients of the maintenance contracts being investigated as Avia Baltika, a firm based in Lithuania and privately owned by a Russian entrepreneur, St. Petersburg Aicraft Repair Co. based in Russia.
Those firms were hired as sub-contractors by the US firm Science and Engineering Services (SES), Reuters said, adding that it was “unclear” if SES figured in the Pentagon probe.
No charges have been filed in the investigation, the report said.