Procurement: From Russia With Strings

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August 27, 2009: The Afghan Interior Ministry received two helicopters (an Mi-8MTV and a Mi-171B) from Russia and Germany. The gift comes with strings attached. The helicopter can only be used for police, not military, work. The helicopters will be used by the anti-narcotics police of the Interior Ministry.

The Afghans actually prefer the Mi-8/17, as the Afghans have used Russian helicopters for decades. The Mi-17 is the export version of the Mi-8, a twin-engine helicopter, roughly equivalent to the U.S. UH-1. But the Mi-8/17 is still in production and is the most widely exported (2,800 out of 12,000 made) helicopter on the planet.

 The Mi-8 is about twice the size and weight of the UH-1, but only hauls about 50 percent more cargo. However, the Mi-8 has a larger interior, and can carry 24 troops, versus a dozen in the UH-1. While the UH-1 was replaced by the UH-60 in the 1980s, the Mi-8 just kept adding better engines and electronics. But the UH-60, while weighing as much as the UH-1 (4.8 tons), could carry as much as the 12 ton Mi-8. But the Mi-8 costs about half as much as a UH-60, and the larger interior is popular with many users. Russia also offers lower rates for training pilots and mechanics. Russia is keen on establishing good relations with Afghanistan. Germany supplied most of the money, and special medical equipment installed in the two helicopters.

 


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