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Buying un-American: Bribery Case Spotlights DoD’s Covert Effort To Obtain Foreign Weapons

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posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 10:18 AM
A very interesting article in C4ISR about Pentagon efforts to obtain foreign weapons systems for testing. It deals with a bribery case against Atlas International Trading, who allegedly bribed at least one person to get contracts to acquire foreign weapons systems.

Atlas works out of an unassuming home in Florida, near Sarasota. It's a quiet three bedroom home, with a screened in porch, and an attached garage, assessed at over $600,000. You would never think that's where you go to buy a ZSU-23-4, but apparently that's where one was bought by the Pentagon.

At various points Atlas has had Scud missile launchers, SA-8 surface to air missiles (the digital version), and just about every other type of weapons system that the military could want to get their hands on to learn to exploit.

They actually got four people to talk to them about how it works. Since the fall of the Soviet Union it's been easier to acquire Russian weapons systems, but it's still dangerous. Back in 2000, the Russians arrested Edmond Pope on espionage charges, tried him, and sentenced him to 20 years. He was released after talks between the Russian and US governments.

He was in Russia doing research on the Shkval torpedo, and says that he thought it was all above board, and that he had permission to work on it. Others trying to acquire weapons systems have also had close calls. The US Navy had two programs to buy Sunburn missiles (SS-N-22) in place. One overt, one covert. The overt program had just about secured the purchase (the Russians were even going to send 10 technicians to assist with testing), when the Russians found out about the covert program. The person buying them got a call from a GRU major telling him they had found out about it. He jumped the next flight to London, and just got out.

It makes for a very wild read, and interestingly, I only recently found out that when my brother in law was at Wright Patterson (which is where the office that handles this for the Air Force is based), he was working on figuring out parameters for foreign built air to air missiles among other systems. He never talked about what he did, but when he retired they printed his jobs, and that was one of them.

In the high-end suburb of University Park, 15 minutes east of downtown Sarasota, Fla., there’s a three-bedroom, single-story home within walking distance of the local country club. Attached three-car garage. Screened-in porch. Assessed value: $618,772.

Not the sort of place you’d go to buy a Soviet anti-aircraft system with four automatic 23mm cannons. But records indicate that a ZSU-23, a Russian-built air-defense system deployed by dozens of countries from Armenia to Zimbabwe, was indeed brokered for sale by a company registered at the home. The company is a small defense contracting firm named Atlas International Trading.

The customer in the transaction? That might come as the biggest surprise of all. It was the U.S. government.

And that wasn’t even one of Atlas’ most exotic deals. Records indicate it wanted to sell the U.S. a Scud missile launcher — like those once used by Saddam Hussein and still prized in the arsenals of countries such as Iran, Syria and North Korea.


posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 10:43 AM
reply to post by Zaphod58

The US has all ways had the policy of obtaining every weapons system whenever possible. I don't know if it's in writing anywhere, but any time a first seen item encountered the discovering unit is encouraged to acquire any available information from it and submit it back to the Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division. As long as it can be done safely of course. It's up to the discretion of the finder and the situation.

But it is known that if a previously un-exploited system can be collected at a reasonable price, it will be.

posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 10:47 AM
I'd add that I've seen Russian MiG fighters taking off from Alamogordo AFB on a couple different occasions. One of them was taking off as I was going directly under the flight path in the truck and they were sending multiple of them out. Probably to go to war with White Sands or maybe a range further away. It's sure an unforgettable experience to see 'enemy' aircraft taking off from a U.S. base, deep inside the U.S. though.

I always assumed they just outright bought them somewhere or perhaps it was an exchange program of some kind between militaries. Interesting read on this.

posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 11:05 AM
reply to post by Wrabbit2000

TacAir, which is a civilian company that does aggressor training recently acquired a pair of Su-27s. I saw them flying over Alabama after their conversion.

posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 11:26 AM
reply to post by Zaphod58

Going by this page:

Russian Military Might (Just a few pages down from the top for the pics of the fighters... Most of the page is Russian history)

They were either Mig-29 Fulcrums or Su-35's. What almost had me stop to dig out a camera was the distinctive dual engines and lay out. Similar to the Tomcat but smaller and totally different in wings. It's hard to miss seeing them for that aspect though. I just can't, by memory, say which of the two given the pictures on that page. They look very similar.

posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 04:34 PM
This is not uncommon, I know and understand the US has always had a policy that any countie that is not a alliey to the US that if the piloit or crew wanted to defect to the US in exchange for there Military craft we would work out a deal once it reached our shores or bases.

During the cold war there were many Mig Fighters and Hind D helocopters that made there way into us hands without paying for them but for political refuge.

Infact during the Cold war we (US Soilders) were told that if some one was trying to defect for the east we need to put ourself between them and help those that were defecting and we (us Soilder) would recieve 30 days leave where ever we wanted along with airfare to that destination.. So there was an incentive on both sides

I can remember seeing a breif on Soviet Armored Vehicles that the US had acuired, I touch them and got up and personal with these vehicle, when asking were did they come from the answer is not what you would guess.

We acquire these vehicles, planes and ships to help us design a weapon that will defeat them during battle.

I guess the place and time don't make a difference as long as we get on to determine its weakness and provide our soilders a weapon that will defeat it.
edit on 2-3-2013 by 19KTankCommander because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 05:05 PM
reply to post by Wrabbit2000

Quick and dirty way to tell is the wingtips. Su uses rails, MiG doesn't. Probably -27s.

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