Sen. McCain Presses Air Force, Pentagon for Answers On Russian Engines

WASHINGTON (Reuters) —

The head of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday increased pressure on the Pentagon and the Air Force to justify continued use of Russian rocket engines for U.S. satellite launches, demanding answers to detailed questions by Feb. 22.

Senator John McCain asked Air Force Secretary Deborah James and Pentagon chief arms buyer Frank Kendall to explain the continued payment of a large launch support contract to a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, despite the presence of a certified competitor, Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX.

He also pressed for answers about why the U.S. government is continuing to deal with the Russian firm that builds the Russian RD-180 rocket engine after organizational changes that put it under the control of Russian individuals who are subject to U.S. sanctions.

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