The Iraqi Air Force has received its
first new Mi-17 helicopters. Originally, Iraq had ordered 24 used, and ten
brand new Mi-17s, but has since changed that order to 28 new Mi-17s. Iraq used
the Mi-17 before 2003, but since then has only had nine American UH-1 type
The 40 year old Russian Mi-8 (export versions are
called Mi17) transport helicopters were also used by the pre-2003 air force .
The Mi8 is about twice the size and weight of the 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. Nearly 3,000 Mi17s have been exported. Russia denies that it
is supplying Iraq with Mi-17s, but someone is.
The Iraqi air force expects to have over fifty
helicopters in service by the end of the year, as well as about the same number
of fixed wing aircraft.