Procurement: Venezuela Buys Russian High Performance Helicopters


December 3, 2005: Venezuela is buying special, high altitude, helicopters from Russia. What makes these choppers special are the more powerful VK-2500 engines, which are being bought from Ukraine. This makes it possible for the Russian made Mi-7MTV-5 transport, and Mi-35M attack helicopters, to operate effectively at altitudes of about 20,000 feet, in hot climates. For the twin engine helicopters, the more powerful engine makes it possible for the chopper to safely land, when flying at high altitude, if one engine quits. The new engines are also built to handle 9,000 hours of operation, compared to an earlier 7,500 hour warranty. Earlier this year, Venezuela had bought fifteen Russian helicopters (six Mi-17MTV-5s and eight Mi-35Ms and one Mi-26T heavy transport) for $201 million. The Russians believe that, if the performance of these helicopters is good enough, they can get orders for another 18 helicopters. Russian helicopters have always been very durable, although not as reliable as Western models. Over the last decade, new manufacturing and management techniques have increased the reliability of Russian aircraft, and apparently this Venezuelan sale will serve as a vivid demonstration of the higher quality of Russian equipment. This would attract more customers.


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