Warplanes: March 15, 2003

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Russian military aircraft exports have had a hard time since the end of the Cold War. The 1991 Gulf War didn't help, as that conflict served to spotlight once more the superiority of American warplanes. But in some areas, Russia has been more competitive. One example is the Mi-171 helicopter, nicknamed "The Terminator." Based on the 1975 Mi-17, and later evolved into the Mi-8, the Mi-171 is the export version of Mi-8 as configured as a gunship and transport. 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 (about 40 people, but usually just 20 or so.) A sling underneath can also carry up to four tons. The crew areas are protected by armor, for protection against bullets and shell fragments. The Terminator normally carries machine-gun, rockets and bombs, and is also wired for using eight 9M114 (Spiral) air to surface missiles, or air-to-air missiles. There is a targeting radar up front. Avionics are largely Western, which makes it an easier sell to foreign nations. Over sixty have been sold in the last few months to Algeria and Iran. The helicopter is rugged, inexpensive ($4-5 million each) and better suited for less affluent nations. Development of this model was completed in 1998 and Russia has been pushing sales hard. 

 


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