US senator assails Pentagon for relying on Russian rockets 
U.S. Republican Senator John McCain - REUTERS/Ammar Awad

WASHINGTON: The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee is assailing the Defense Department for relying on Russian rocket engines to launch American military satellites into space.

At a committee hearing Wednesday, Republican John McCain says Russia holds many of the United States’ “most precious national security satellites at risk before they ever get off the ground.”

Yet McCain says the department has actively sought to undermine the committee’s direction to limit the risk and stop the use of the Russian RD-180 engines by the end of this decade.

Air Force Secretary Deborah James says the department is working to end the use of the Russian engines as soon as possible.

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