Warplanes: The Switch Hitter From Russia


November 18, 2011: India has received the first five of 80 Russian Mi-17V5 transport helicopters they ordered three years ago. The V5 model is often equipped with Western electronics, making them more compatible with customer specific needs. The V5 also differs from earlier models by having more powerful engines, an improved auxiliary engine and an extra door on the right side. The nose of the aircraft protrudes, unlike the glassed-in round nose more typical of Mi-17s. The Mi-17V5 is also equipped to be quickly fitted with weapons (rockets, missiles, machine-gun pods). In effect, the Mi-17V5 can be used as both a transport and gunship helicopter.

The Mi-17 is an export version of the 1960s era Russian Mi-8. This is a 12 ton helicopter that can carry four tons of cargo or up to 32 passengers. The Mi-8/17 has been adding better engines and electronics to the basic Mi-8 frame for the last fifty years. Nearly 3,000 Mi-17s have been exported. Second hand Mi-17s are available for under $5 million. This is a tenth of what a new model European NH-90 or American UH-60 would cost. While not as reliable, or easy to maintain, as the more modern designs, the Mi-17 gets the job done at the only price many countries can afford.



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