Murphy's Law: Guns For Butter

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August 24, 2007: Russia is offering Ka-32 or Mi-38 helicopters to South Korea in payment cash owed. The Russians have made the price ($7 to $10 million each) attractive enough to make the South Koreans consider the offer. Russia borrowed $1.33 billion from South Korea in 2003. The loan must be paid back by 2009. The Ka-32 is the civilian version of the Ka-27, and is a 12 ton chopper than can carry up to four tons. It can stay in the air about four hours per sortie and cruises at 205 kilometers an hour. The Ka-27 has been used by the Russian navy since the 1970s. The Mi-38 was developed in the last decade. It is a 15 ton helicopter that can carry up to six tons and can stay in the air for up to six hour per sortie (cruising at 200 kilometers an hour). Both helicopters can be tricked out with all manner of useful electronics and commo gear. The Koreans currently have a need for about thirty search and rescue helicopters, as well as some new cargo helicopters. In addition, the South Korea Marine Corps is looking for several dozen helicopters so they can have the ability to make air assaults. Thus the Russians may end up providing half a billion dollars worth of helicopters, which will give the Russians another happy customer. This makes it much easier to obtain future sales.

Three years ago, Russia traded armored vehicles in payment for debt, but this deal was only worth about $100 million.

 


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