September 16, 2010:
For the first time, Argentina is buying Russian military equipment, in the form of two Mi-17 helicopters. The main reason for this move is price. American or European helicopters would cost more than twice as much. Russia also offers lower rates for training pilots and mechanics. Russia is keen on establishing good relations with new South American customers, and has been increasingly successful selling weapons in this region during the last two decades
The Mi-17 is the export version of the Mi-8, a twin-engine helicopter, roughly equivalent to the U.S. UH-1 ("Huey"). 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 had a larger interior, and can carry 24 troops, versus a dozen in the UH-1. The UH-1 was replaced by the UH-60 ("Blackhawk") in the 1980s, while the Mi-8 just kept adding better engines and electronics to the basic Mi-8 frame. 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. Moreover, the Mi-8 costs about half as much as a UH-60, and the larger interior is popular with many users.