Procurement: Peru Cannot Get Enough Mi-17s


April 20, 2013: Peru is pleased with its Russian helicopters and recently ordered more. This time they bought 24 Mi-171s. Most of them will be delivered by next year. Each will cost $17 million, which includes training, spares, and technical support. Three years ago Peru ordered six Mi-17s and two Mi-35s from Russia for $250 million. This is at the high end of what these helicopters usually go for (even when including support and spares), indicating provision may have been made for bribes.

The Mi-171 is based on the 1970s era Mi-17, which is the export version of the similar Mi-8. Weighing about 12 tons, and carrying a four ton load, the Mi-171 has a range of 590 kilometers at a cruising speed of 250 kilometers per hour. There is a crew of three and as many passengers as can be squeezed in (up to 40 people but usually 20-30). A sling underneath can also carry up to four tons.

Several hundred Mi-171s have been exported from Russia. The helicopter is rugged, inexpensive, and better suited for less affluent nations. Development of this model was completed in 1998, and Russia has been pushing sales hard.

The original Mi-8 was a twin-engine helicopter, roughly equivalent to the U.S. UH-1. But the Mi-8/17 is still in production and is the most widely exported (2,800 out of 12,000 made) helicopter on the planet. The Mi-8 is about twice the size and weight of the UH-1 but only hauls about 50 percent more cargo. However, the Mi-8 had a larger interior and can carry more than twice as many troops, compared to the dozen that fit into the UH-1. The UH-1 was replaced by the UH-60 in the 1980s, while the Mi-8 just kept adding better engines and electronics to the basic Mi-8 frame. The UH-60, while weighing ten tons (compared to UH-1s' 4.8 tons), could carry as much as the 12 ton Mi-8. But the Mi-8 costs less than half as much as a UH-60, and the larger interior is popular with many users. Russia also charges less for training pilots and mechanics. Venezuela has set up a school for Mi-17 and Mi-35 crews and maintainers, which is where the Peruvians may go for training.

The Mi-35 is the export version of the most recent version of the Mi-24 helicopter gunship. This is a twelve ton helicopter gunship that also has a cargo area that can hold up to eight people or four stretchers. The Mi-24 can carry rockets, missiles bombs, and automatic cannon. It is used by over thirty countries and has a pretty good reputation for reliability. The design is based on the earlier Mi-8 transport helicopter.




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