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Do Not Mess With Mother Russia
by James Dunnigan
November 9, 2012

Peru recently received four of their Mi-25 helicopter gunships that had been sent to Russia for refurbishment. These are the first of seven Mi-25s being rebuilt and upgraded, as part of a $20 million deal that will extend the service life of these helicopters seven years. The Mi-25 is the export version of the Mi-24.

Eight years ago Russia offered Peru a $250 million loan for use in refurbishing their Russian-made transports, helicopters, and warplanes. This got negotiations going on several deals to get more of Peru’s military aircraft operational. Four years ago a deal was agreed on to refurbish the 18 Peruvian Mig-29 fighters for about $110 million. This put an end to an embarrassing bit of military procurement.

This all began after Peru’s war with Ecuador in 1995. Unhappy with the outcome of that conflict Peru, in 1996, bought second-hand Mig-29 fighters and Su-25 ground-attack planes from Belarus for $350 million. Russia, angered that the sale went to Belarus and not to them, refused to support the aircraft (with spares, technical assistance, and upgrades). After two years of negotiations the Russians were persuaded to provide maintenance, as well as sell Peru three more MiG-29s.

Over time it became clear the MiGs weren't much use. The deficiencies became embarrassingly evident in 2001, when a MiG-29 crashed in front of an anti-corruption panel checking the airworthiness of the fighters. The cause of the crash was traced to a generator the pilot failed to turn on before flight. Another MiG-29 had been lost in 1997. Russia pointed out that all the Belarus MiG-29s were older models and that this problem could be fixed. As a result, all the older MiG-29s have been refurbished and are more reliable and safer to operate. Russia has also made a point about how important it is to get manufacturer support for military aircraft.

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