The Russian Helicopter Corporation has obtained an order for seven Mi-171 helicopters from Bangladesh. This was accomplished by providing a billion dollars’ worth of financing to a poor country that needs transport helicopters but cannot afford them. The Mi-171 can carry up to 37 passengers or four tons of cargo and has engines that are particularly effective under "hot and high" conditions. Six of the Bangladeshi Mi-171s will be the Mi-171Sh version, which can easily be armed with machine-guns and rocket pods. The other Mi-171 is the E version which is strictly a transport.
The M-171 is basically an inexpensive, easy to use and rugged transport helicopter. But it belongs to a family of helicopters that has long been modified to carry weapons or any other specialized gear. Some of the Mi-171s are even being equipped with radars and other sensors, to be used for reconnaissance and surveillance.
The basic Mi-171 is based on the 1970s era Mi-17, which is the export version of the similar Mi-8. Weighing about 12 tons, and carrying a four ton load, the Mi-171 has a range of 590 kilometers at a cruising speed of 250 kilometers per hour. There is a crew of three and as many passengers as can be squeezed in (up to 40 people, but usually 20-30.) A sling underneath can also carry up to four tons.
Several hundred Mi-171s have been exported by Russia. The helicopter is rugged, inexpensive ($4-5 million each) and better suited for less affluent nations. Development of this model was completed in 1998 and Russia has been pushing sales hard. Users have been satisfied.