Russia Threatens To Halt Critical Rocket Engine Exports To The U.S.

Despite earlier reported hopes that Putin seeks a deal with Trump, as opposed to escalating tensions, it appears Russia is planniong to do just that.

Last Friday (the 13th), just before the US, UK and France launched 105 Tomahawk missiles at Syria, we noted  that as part of Russian countermeasures against US sanctions, it could halt titanium exports to the US, critical for the production of Boeing airplanes, which promptly sent Boeing's stock lower. 

As it turns out Russia has leverage not only over the biggest US exporter of airplanes and military equipment:  what piqued our interest, is the United States Department of Defense (DoD) dependency on Russian-manufactured rocket engines to launch military satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO).

Pentagon officials have previously stated their space programs will not migrate to American-built rocket engines until at least 2024, with some analysts forecasting the reliance on Russian-made parts through 2028, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Despite bipartisan demands from Congress to quickly phase out the RD-180 engines on national-security grounds, it is proving harder than many lawmakers expected to secure an equally reliable domestic replacement. Government and industry officials said United Launch Alliance, the Pentagon’s primary rocket provider, likely will continue flying some 1990s-vintage Atlas V boosters with Russian-built engines through 2024 or 2025.”

So now that Congress neglected to phase out the RD-180, as demanded, it has a different name: Moscow leverage. American-made rocket engines from Lockheed Martin and Boeing are expected to enter the commercialization phase as far out as the mid-2020s, which could develop into a dangerous national security threat considering the recent developments in Syria.

And on Tuesday, the Pentagon’s worst fears were highlighted when Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin announced, “Russia will suspend supplies of rocket engines to the United States in case if a relevant decision is taken by the country’s leadership, but such decision has not been made yet.

“But can we, say, just stop [supplies of rocket engines to the United States]? We can. But we need to weigh the pros and cons and distinguish pure politics that makes one shoot oneself in the foot from economic pragmatism,” Rogozin told the RBC broadcaster when asked a relevant question.

According to Russian news agency Sputnik, leaders in the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia, together with speaker Vyacheslav Volodin introduced a draft law last Friday “on the potential response to US sanctions and anti-Russian policies.”

The draft of new measures specifies a ban on "imports of US agricultural, alcoholic, tobacco products and medical drugs. It also implies the suspension of cooperation between Russia and the United States in nuclear energy, aircraft manufacturing and supplies of rocket engines," said Sputnik.

The announcement of the new draft comes as the United States Department of the Treasury added another “38 Russian entrepreneurs, senior officials and companies to its sanctions list in response to Russia’s alleged malign activity worldwide,” added Sputnik.

And while Bloomberg suggests that a  Russian export ban on rocket engines will only “hurt Russia” — not the United States…

"Similarly, a ban on the export of Russian rocket engines, which the U.S. still buys, would hurt Russians most of all. The U.S. aerospace industry will find replacements (the biggest U.S. launch company, SpaceX, doesn’t use Russian engines, anyway), but Russia will lose the sales.”

... Pentagon officials are “bracing for potential engine shortages,” the Wall Street Journal said, as it seems like the easy days of America’s military buying Russian-made RD-180s to launch their spy satellites could be coming to an end. Whether the Pentagon will then outsource all its geo-orbital needs to one Elon Musk remains to be seen.


messystateofaffairs Croesus Wed, 04/18/2018 - 17:56 Permalink

They really do want world peace, just as soon as everybody not in the club becomes nice docile happy obedient slaves for the rent seekers club. They would also like a pristine environment  to luxuriate in. Unfortunately ZH'ers don't seem the happy slave types so its off to the chopping block or reeducation camps for them.

In reply to by Croesus

. . . _ _ _ . . . messystateofaffairs Wed, 04/18/2018 - 18:31 Permalink

When this happens (kinda`surprised it hasn't already) the seats on a rocket from Kazakhstan will go up, if they are even available at all.
Without engines (the US still has some that will do the job for satellites,) this scenario would cut off American astronauts from space... otherwise known as the 'high ground' or the final battlefield.

In reply to by messystateofaffairs

Grave messystateofaffairs Wed, 04/18/2018 - 18:36 Permalink

cattle (common people) are no longer needed,
they just eat up resources that "belong" to psychopaths in power
(they dont need slaves anymore thanks to robotization, 3d printers, etc)

so this "overpopulation" will be "solved" by global nuclear war
killing off 7 billions of common folks to free up the world for remaining 500m of psychopaths

we are at war
but not war of countries, races or ideologies
we are at war with psychopaths in power

they are the cancer that spreads through vertically hierarchical societies
so next time build one thats local, decentralized and distributed

In reply to by messystateofaffairs

PhilofOz Grave Wed, 04/18/2018 - 20:16 Permalink

Makes no sense they'd want to use nuclear weapons to reduce the world population. I think their ultimate plan will be to create a deadly disease that only the 1% will have the antidote for, along with enough selective slaves to keep them in the lifestyle they are used to. The useless eaters will go but all the infrastructure will remain for them to do as they wish. 

In reply to by Grave

Grave PhilofOz Wed, 04/18/2018 - 20:41 Permalink

plans are already drawn, they will nuke ALL population centers,
all coastal regions will be hit by hundreds meters high water shockwaves (tsunami)
created by underwater nuclear explosions
while they hide in their luxury bunkers, waiting for radioactive fallout to clear out.
meanwhile using hunter-killer robots to eliminate the surviving cattle for sport

russia is their problem, due to its massive landmass and well spread out population.
will be probably targeted also by biological and chemical weapons,
fresh water and food sources poisoned by genetically engineered diseases
(ngos have been covertly harvesting dna samples in russia for a while now, but also worldwide)

In reply to by PhilofOz

inhibi Stormtrooper Wed, 04/18/2018 - 18:00 Permalink

Yeah we do, lol. In fact, advanced manufacturing is probably all that is left.

We could easily build it ourselves, and do so. Its a price thing. Companies dont want to spend on R&D, they just want to get a complete product or subassembly, especially if it has been tested to the standard which could cost, for rocket engines, around $20 million per design.

In reply to by Stormtrooper

mkkby beepbop Wed, 04/18/2018 - 17:08 Permalink

NASA went to the moon in 7 years, but now can't build a rocket engine in 20 years.  The one mentioned in the article is already a decade in the making.  Look at how that diversity has worked out.  A few more female/brown engineers and they'll need to contract out light bulb replacement.

If the US doesn't have reliable rocket engines and Russia does, what does that say about the ICBMs?  If war breaks out, maybe the US sends out mostly duds and gets hammered by mostly bulls eyes.

In reply to by beepbop

inhibi mkkby Wed, 04/18/2018 - 19:51 Permalink

Its not the diversity hires. Trust me when I say that the majority of engineers in the states working for aerospace firms are chinese/indian/eastern european anyways. 

It's the corporate attitude of "fuck longterm, sell everything, use outside firms, fire fulltime so I get my $10 million bonus". You think that if Boeing really wanted to they couldnt make a rocket/jet engine comparable to the Russian version in 3 years? Of course they could, but what is the incentive? They would rather purchase it fully tested & certified (which is like 10's millions in capex btw) and then turn around and sell it to the US gov w/ a 300% margin attached. 

Its corporate laziness, brought about by these generic manager types that know nothing about their own business except how to maximize the EBITDA for the next board meeting. Stick an engineer at the helm and watch the firm start making new products and spend on R&D. 

Ive been at so many US firms that would rather spend $30 million with a consultant/marketing firm than spend $30 million updating their laboratory built in the 70's.

In reply to by mkkby

DisorderlyConduct Deep Snorkeler Wed, 04/18/2018 - 17:32 Permalink

The Russian-made rocketry motor,

Can't be made in North - or Southern Dakota.

The space race we won.

Then we lost it all, son.

And now we can't even call ourselves participants in the space race because fucking globalists have offshored every goddamned industry that made the US great. And Werner Von Braun was a nazi. Damn smart one too. Better than Goddard.

Dunno guys. That last lines not working but i can't trim it...

In reply to by Deep Snorkeler

Lt. Frank Drebin ShrNfr Wed, 04/18/2018 - 16:52 Permalink

An Air Force general was sitting at a dinner for muslim outreach. A muslim man leaned forward and began talking to the general, saying how upset his son was that there were no muslims in the movie Star Trek. He asked, "why are there no muslims in Star Trek?" the general leaned forward and replied, "because it's in the future".

In reply to by ShrNfr

silverer ShrNfr Wed, 04/18/2018 - 16:53 Permalink

Funny isn't it? Screw the Russians until the US needs something. They developed the engines probably for 1/4 the cost the US would have spent, just like they did with their fighter jets. So sure it made sense to buy them from Russia. Hey, thanks comrade, for saving the ass of the US taxpayer, right? If you are a US citizen and taxpayer, and haven't decided the US should make an effort to get along with the Russians by now, maybe you should move to Canada or the EU. Oh wait...

In reply to by ShrNfr

Winston Churchill silverer Wed, 04/18/2018 - 17:05 Permalink

40% of US uranium comes from Russia and two Stans who are allied with them.

A much bigger problem than rocket engines in the immediate term.

You can thank HRC for that.

Most of the critical elements for making the metal alloys for rocket engines also come from those same three.

Also vital for tool steels.

Titanium not included.Sanctions are going to hurt the US far more than Russia,its not a zero sum game.

In reply to by silverer

True Blue ShrNfr Wed, 04/18/2018 - 17:44 Permalink

Kinda like putting a suicide bomber under a trash can to see how far into the air it flies?

If they get serious, they will stop renting space on Soyuz capsules (at what, 73 million a pop?) to American and 'Israeli' Astronauts. ('Israeli' is in sarcasm quotes due to the American taxpayers being the ones footing the bill for them to go on self-aggrandizing 'missions'; but what does that flea-pit do which the American taxpayers aren't on the hook for?)

In reply to by ShrNfr

HRClinton ShrNfr Wed, 04/18/2018 - 19:12 Permalink

Not gonna happen.  This means that they are looking for a better deal.

Another head fake, easily mitigated with more bullshit from thump Trump.

Russian politicians and negotiators are addicted to American Hopium flavored Kool-Aid drinks. That's because after centuries of conditioning, deep down inside they are just newly-liberated Serfs, who still have the psyche of a serf: they admire and kowtow to Old Power.

In reply to by ShrNfr