Huey IIs and other diplomatic failures

How does the US military win friends and influence people? Very often, it’s with free weapons. But sometimes that doesn’t quite go as planned, according to a “secret” diplomatic cable newly-liberated by Wikileaks.

In Kazakhstan, the US Department of State orchestrated the transfer of eight Bell Helicopter Huey IIs — highly modified, decommissioned UH-1Ns — to Bishkek Astana. It was part of an overall effort to enhance US influence with a long-time Russian ally that happens to have vast energy resources and strategic location in a wedge between Moscow, Beijing and Islamabad.

But the UH-1H transfer didn’t go as smoothly as hoped.

First, instead of delivering eight aircraft, the US Army’s security assistance budget provided the funding for only two, according to the cable. While State continued to pressure the Department of Defense to fund the remaining six, the operational readiness rate of the two UH-1Ns in Kazakhstan “have hovered at zero”, US diplomats complained, explaining: “A prime example of the issues at hand – when the HUEY II s required routine 150 flight hourservice, the initial parts package did not include all needed parts for the service, but did include over $160K in non-required or non-HUEY II parts.”


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