Pentagon Says It CANNOT Replace Imported Russian Rocket Engines

Via ‘Operation Paperclip’ the U.S. got the best German scientists and rocket technology that was at least 15 years ahead of the rest of the world.

What happened since then???

So with trillions of dollars ‘disappearing’ & flowing into black military projects we cannot build a rocket engine?


An Atlas 5 ULA (United Launch Alliance) rocket
An Atlas 5 ULA (United Launch Alliance) rocket

Pentagon says it cannot replace imported Russian rocket engines (RT, April 2014):

The Pentagon cannot find a replacement for the Russian rocket engines it buys anytime soon, a senior official has revealed. The import of the engines has for now been banned via a court order lobbied by SpaceX and based on sanctions against Russia.

Washington may soon find it problematic to continue launching its military satellites, as a long-time supply connection between Russian and US defense companies has been halted and is being reviewed – all because of sanctions against Moscow in connection with the Ukrainian crisis.

Earlier ordered by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the review of US Air Force dependence on the Russian-made RD-180 engine, used in American Atlas V rockets, has not yielded any solutions.

We don’t have a great solution. We haven’t made any decisions yet,” Frank Kendall, the US undersecretary of defense for acquisition, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg in a Thursday article. The defense official spoke to the outlet after testifying before a Senate committee on the matter on Wednesday.

United Launch Alliance LLC, a partnership of Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) and Boeing Co. (BA), has been purchasing RD-180 rocket engines from joint Russian-American enterprise RD-Amross LLC since 1997. The engines in question have been produced at a plant of NPO Energomash near Moscow, and over 40 of them were delivered between 1997-2007 alone.

The US has used RD-180 engines to power its Atlas III and Atlas V rockets, which mostly deliver commercial or military communications satellites, as well as reconnaissance and navigation satellites.

SpaceX fighting Russia on US space market?

So far, the replacement options outlined by the Air Force for Hagel have reportedly included building RD-180s in the US under an existing license from the Russian maker, or using different Delta-class rockets altogether. Each of the options has its drawbacks, such as the need to harness the time and know-how for setting up engine production in the US, or the limited production capability for another class of rockets, according to Kendall.

However, even as the Pentagon has yet to come up with a definite decision on the issue, the banning of the Russian engine import is being pushed through by other US players.

US billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX corporation on Wednesday won a court order temporarily blocking the Air Force from buying the Russian rocket engines on the grounds of a “potential violation” of US-imposed sanctions. The corporation says that by purchasing the engines, the Air Force is funneling money to Russia’s military industrial complex, which could be sponsoring some sanctioned Russian personas.

That was only part of the April 28 complaint filed by SpaceX, which has been desperately trying to break into the military launch market. Musk has particularly been aiming to end the Boeing/Lockheed-Martin monopoly on launching military satellites in the US.

Speaking at a congressional hearing in March, Musk alleged that such launches may be at risk due to the dependence on the Russian engine.

There has not, however, been any indication that Russia could stop the production of engines already agreed upon under the latest contract, nor did the US freeze their delivery. The Wednesday court decision did not cover existing contracts or payments either.

Despite Washington’s recently ratcheted-up rhetoric on sanctions against Russia, Bloomberg learned that five more RD-180 engines are still due to be delivered this year. The further deliveries could come under question at least temporarily, as, according to Pentagon spokeswoman Maureen Schumann, the United Launch Alliance has already stockpiled a two-year supply of the engines.

5 thoughts on “Pentagon Says It CANNOT Replace Imported Russian Rocket Engines”

  1. Pathetic and stupid.
    Not enough oversight.
    The US has not built a rocket since 1997.
    How stupid can you get?

  2. It WILL NOT replace Russian engines! Of course we could make them here, but that would employ Americans, and THAT WE WILL NOT do! Its politically INCORRECT to use Americans! We help our enemies!

    We would NOT even buy running shoes from a US company, the graft has gotten soooo bad! It would take a Federal court order to change anything.

  3. I agree with some of what you say, Guset, but Russia is not our enemy, the greedy, rapacious corporations who have a stranglehold on our corrupt congress are our enemies. It is the corporations who offshored all decent jobs, and have made it impossible for us here in America. I call them the greedy guts. They are doing everything they can to destroy our way of living, and push most American wages down to pennies so we can be competitive with slave wages overseas.
    They already have a start with convict labor. These privatized prisons that pollute our landscape rent out convicts for 70 cents a day to greedy corporations. The corporations get big tax credits for using them, and they handle customer service, some even handle credit card numbers……..the identity theft is being sponsored by the corporations.
    If you want to see the evil corporations bring to nations, look no farther than Japan. TEPCO controls 96% of their power grid. A couple of weeks ago, the Japanese government said there will be no charges against TEPCO for their greed inspired Fukushima disaster that is killing Japanese, and has broken the food chain for all time. Those of us on the west coast will die, too.
    As for a federal court changing anything, look at Citizens United, and Citizens United 2. Those bastards are the most corrupt in US history.
    I feel and understand your rage, but it is the corporations, not Russia, or any of the countries to which they move their manufacturing plants, it is the corruption of the greedy guts.

  4. One other thing I didn’t mention. I worked in employment for most of my life. I saw what happened to this country starting in 1998. Corporations used to value their employees, human resources were the most valued part of any good company, and people were treated very well.
    I was only a contractor, whom they paid very well, but they were careful to have the right chairs for us, we had the choice of 4-5 different types, and physical therapists who worked with the onsite nurse to ensure we had the correct chair for us.
    That all vanished after 2000. When they could hire a safety engineer for $3-5K a year vs. $80K plus in China or Vietnam. My assignments were to find people who knew how to move mfg equipment from country to country, and to hell with the people here. They kept the low rate jobs here, and the good ones were offshored. It was the most depressing cycle I have ever seen, and it has not changed in the past 14+ years, just gotten worse.
    When working for corporations where the founders did the final hiring, it was much nicer, it was matching personalities to ones they would fit with the best.
    But, most of them are gone, the technology swallowed up by bigger and greedier corporations, and the workers are treated like trash.
    I was able to do this type of work because I had some abilities to match personalities with others. Now, it is irrelevant, it is about saving a buck.
    I found it too dreadful to work on site any longer, and finally left the industry. Slave trader was never on my job description, and I loved my engineers too much to treat them like rabble.
    I received a phone call from an engineer a year or so after I walked away from corporate America. He thanked me for urging him NOT to go to work for corporation X………it was good to hear.
    Now, I do work that doesn’t pay nearly as much, but it does pay, and I do it for me. It is 100% creative, and I am grateful to have found a skill that is worthwhile after so many years. I have written a couple of books, published one, have not found a publisher for the second one. There are worse fates.
    I cannot stand by and watch the country I used to love being exploited by greedy gut corporations. Especially, I cannot bear to enable their greed.
    Thanks for all you do, Infinite Unknown…… speak truth in an environment that does all it can to bury it for all time. You are a brave player, and I respect your work, even when I don’t agree with you.

  5. The greed mongers have let their country down.
    By committing to Russian made motors, they have, like Apple, GM, Ford, IBM, succumbed to the commercial need to outsource at the best quality and price, whilst allowing the skill base of their own country wither.

    Profit and returns on investment come first, so you buy a cheap (by US standards) but well proven foreign made item, mark it up by 50%, and make a killing creaming US taxpayers subsidies for NASA.

    Then you let the politicians get involved, ban Russian goods for no logical reason other than the Rockefellers & Rothschilds want to own Russia, and suddenly you’re f*c*ed.


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