Procurement: India Loads Up On Mi-17s


November 8, 2007: India is buying another 80 Russian Mi-17 helicopters [PHOTO] for $5 million each. This deal includes Russia buying 20 Indian made Dhruv helicopters for $8 million each. The Mi17 transport helicopter is the export version of the Mi8. This, in turn, is a 1960s era chopper that is about twice the size and weight of the contemporary American UH-1, but only hauls about 50 percent more cargo (about 2.6 tons). However, the Mi-8 has a larger interior, and can carry 24 troops, versus a dozen in 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 as much as the UH-1 (4.8 tons), could carry as much as the 12 ton Mi-8. Most importantly, the Mi-8 costs about half as much as a UH-60, and the larger interior is popular with many users. Second hand Mi-8/17s are even cheaper. Nearly 3,000 Mi17s have been exported.

In addition, India is updating the electronics in 172 of its Mi-8/17 Russian helicopters, for $1.8 million each. This upgrade will include a landing, weather and ranging radar, as well as a digital moving map system. This will enable these helicopters to operate safely at night and in all sorts of weather. Some of these helicopters will also receive missile and rocket launchers, as well as a targeting pod and a missile defense system. In the last forty years, India has bought over 400 Russian helicopters, and about 300 of them are still in service, largely because of upgrades like this.


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