Posted by John Keller
HUNTSVILLE, Ala., 18 June 2013. U.S. Army officials are buying 30 Russian-designed medium lift and military attack helicopters for use in Afghanistan. These helicopters perform particularly well in the hot weather and high altitude of Afghanistan.
Officials of the Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., are awarding a $572.2 million contract to JSC Rosoboronexport in Moscow for 30 Mi-17 helicopters, spare parts, test equipment, and engineering support.
The Army made the contract announcement for the Russian helicopters on Monday, the same week as the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, France, which Europe's largest aviation exhibition this year, and one of the largest air shows in the world.
The intended user of the Russian helicopters is the Afghan National Security Forces Special Mission Wing, an aviation unit that supports counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics and special operations missions, Army officials say.
The Mi-17 helicopter, built by the Kazan Helicopter Plant in Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, is a modified Russian Mi-8M Hip medium twin-turbine transport helicopter that also can function as a helicopter gunship.
The Kazan Helicopter Plant is one of the largest helicopter manufacturers in the world. Rosoboronexport is the Russian agency for military exports and imports, and supplies the international market with Russian armaments officially allowed for export.
A wide variety of military, law-enforcement, commercial aviation, and public safety agencies throughout the world use the Mi-17 in applications ranging from passenger air transport, search-and-rescue, and cargo transport, to military special operations.
The Mi-17 has a crew of three and can carry as many as 30 passengers or troops, 12 stretchers, or nearly 9,000 pounds of cargo. The aircraft is nearly 61 feet long and 16 feet tall with a 70-foot-diameter rotor. It has two Klimov TV3-117VM turboshaft engines and can fly to altitudes as high as 20,000 feet.
Versions of this helicopter equipped with hardpoints can 3,300 pounds of bombs, rockets, and guns. Work on the contract will be done in Russia, and should be finished by the end of 2014.