Stop Relying on Russian Aircraft

Ariel Cohen /

The United States is increasingly relying on the Russian Federation for supplying U.S. forces stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is because the U.S. does not have enough C-17 military transport aircraft to address all of its logistical needs and meet its commitments around the world. Freedom is not free, and neither is the Russian help.

In 2007, the United States paid $47,000 per hour to lease Russian Antonov AN-124 “Ruslan” strategic heavy lift jets. In fiscal year 2007–2008, the U.S. taxpayers paid more than $840 million total to the Russians. This equals what the Department of Defense would pay for four additional C-17 aircraft, which would serve the U.S. military for the next 40 or 50 years. Instead, the Obama Administration, in an effort to achieve immediate dollar savings, proposed to cancel the C-17 program in the defense budget last year.

With additional $400 billion in cuts in the defense budget that the President proposed last month, U.S. national security is apparently one of the few areas where the President is willing to cut. In the long term, however, taxpayers will pay even more in Russian plane leasing fees than if the Administration continued with the program and procured more C-17 aircraft. (more…)