US, Russia sign contract for 10 more Afghan Mi-17s
By James Hardy
The US Army has signed a USD171.4 million contract with Russian government export agency Rosoboronexport for 10 more Mil Mi-17V-5 'Hip' multi-role helicopters for the Afghan Air Force (AAF), the Pentagon announced on 18 July.
The announcement adds to an agreement concluded in May 2011 that specified the delivery of 21 Mi-17V-5 helicopters and spare parts worth about USD900 million. Plans are also under way to build a maintenance facility in Afghanistan for the country's Mil assets, which include a number of Mi-8/17/35 helicopters that have been sourced from donor nations.
The air force already has nine Mi-24/35 'Hind' heavy attack helicopters, including six former Czech Mi-24V 'Hind-E' versions delivered in 2008-09.
The initial contract for 21 Mi-17s faced scrutiny after concerns that it was similar to a 2007 deal involving US firm ARINC to supply 20 Mi-17s to Iraq, which encountered technical problems due to the integration of non-Russian hardware onto the Mi-17. The helicopters, acquired by ARINC for USD7.9 million each, were modified and sold to the Pentagon for more than USD13 million, prompting criticism from US lawmakers.182 of 371 words
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