The Free Press, Mankato, MN


Afganistan US Russia Copter Deal

FILE - This April 20, 2009 file-pool photo then Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, left, and state holding company Russian Technologies' head Sergei Chemezov, holding glasses after signing a deal in Moscow, Russia. Chemezov, a longtime confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin, heads Russian Technologies, a state holding company that includes the country's top arms manufacturers. To outfit Afghanistan's security forces with new helicopters, the Pentagon bypassed U.S. companies and turned instead to Moscow for dozens of Russian Mi-17 rotorcraft at a cost of more than $1 billion. Senior Pentagon officials assured skeptical members of Congress they'd made the right call, pointing repeatedly to a top-secret 2010 study they said named the Mi-17 as the superior choice. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)