Despite ‘New, Tough Sanctions’, US Takes Delivery Of Russian Rocket Engines, by Tyler Durden

This is an odd situation that has persisted for years: the US gets rocket engines from Russia. From Tyler Durden at

The Trump administration and the U.S. Department of the Treasury last week slapped sanctions on several Russian companies and billionaires for allegedly supporting Russia’s military and intelligence agencies in fueling more cyber attacks and other malicious activities.

Despite the newest round of tough U.S. sanctions, Russia will supply two batches of rocket engines to the U.S. Air Force in 2018, Chief Developer of Energomash Scientific and Production Association [the engines’ developer] Pyotr Lyovochkin told TASS on Friday.

“Currently, the production of commercial engines at Energomash is proceeding in compliance with the contracts signed. The dispatch of the first batch of RD-180 and RD-181 engines to the United States is planned for the second quarter of 2018,” the chief developer said.

“And the next batch of these engines will be supplied to the customer at the end of the year,” he added, without specifying the number of engines.

The Atlas III and Atlas V rockets, manufactured by the Convair Division of General Dynamics, along with Antares rockets are the cheapest and most viable solution for the U.S. Air Force in launching heavy payloads into high orbits.

Atlas V’s Business End with Russian RD-180 Engine – (Source: NASA) 

The new “enhanced” Antares at the Horizontal Integration Facility at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport with RD-181 Engine. (Source: Jared Haworth/SpaceFlight Insider)

Unbeknownst too many, the Atlas family of rockets and Antares rely on Russian rocket engines for the first stage. This has become a dangerous national security threat, as the Air Force has become Russian dependent on RD-180 and RD-181 rocket engines. The Air Force’s contract with Energomash extends into the second half of 2019.

The issue about using Russian rocket engines was raised at a recent Air Force budget hearing by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

“Congress has consistently supported funding to rapidly transition from our current dependence on the Russian-made RD-180 rocket engine for national security space launches while maintaining assured access to space as a matter of U.S. policy,” Shelby said.

He then directed a question to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson: “Is the Air Force on track to successfully transition the RD-180 rocket engine by the end of 2022?”

Wilson responded: “Yes, sir. We are.” Shelby: “So you feel good about that?” Wilson: “Yes, sir. I do.”

To continue reading: Despite ‘New, Tough Sanctions’, US Takes Delivery Of Russian Rocket Engines


One response to “Despite ‘New, Tough Sanctions’, US Takes Delivery Of Russian Rocket Engines, by Tyler Durden

  1. I googled “when did the US stop making Atlas rocket engines” . The first sentence of the 2016 article I selected is:

    ” Sixteen years ago, amid a post-Cold War glow, U.S. defense contractors began using a cheap and efficient Russian engine to launch American military rockets into space.”

    The rest of the article details how politicians, defense contractors, and military brass made an abominable sausage of the this portion of the US Space Program.

    The article:

    The rationality of using the Russians to propel our rockets escapes me–e.g. sabotage, which was not a major concern to the Three Wise Mens groups.


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