Rosoboronexport reported a new Indian order for 12 Mil Mi-17V5 helicopters at the Aero India show this week amid hopes that some 200 of them could eventually be sold to India. To date, Russian Helicopters has delivered 36 of the 80 machines that were ordered in 2008 in a deal worth more than $1.3 billion. Deliveries to the Indian Air Force commenced in 2011. The latest order comprises three in VIP transport configuration, and nine for the Indian Coast Guard.
More than 11,000 Mi-8/17 series helicopters have been assembled so far at Kazan and Ulan-Ude plants. Starting in 1971, India procured 124 Mi-8s. In 1986 it began buying the upgraded Mi-17 featuring a new gearbox and more powerful engines. After a long pause, India resumed purchasing the Mi-17 series, buying 40 worth $170 million in 2000. Today, the Indian armed forces operate 160 Mi-8/17s.
A follow-on deal for 59 more Mi-17V5s is being considered. These machines represent a new production standard and feature many improvements. With a takeoff weight of 13,000 kg, the Mi-17V-5 can carry either 36 armed soldiers internally or 4,500 kg of cargo on a sling. The customized Indian Mi-17V-5 boasts brand-new KNEI-8 navigation, information-display and cueing systems. It features four multifunction displays (MFDs) instead of the dial instruments found on previous Mi-17 models. This new version will become a new factory standard from now on, and provides for a reduction in pilots’ workload. Integration of the new avionics with advanced night-vision equipment and a glass cockpit was made by Mil and its partner Russian Avionics.
Russian Helicopters wants to expand into the civil market, where its machines are still rare. Although the Indian civil helicopter fleet grew from 117 in 2002 to 190 in 2007 and to nearly 300 at the end of the past year, it includes only six Mi-17s. Russian Helicopters says the Indian rotorcraft fleet needs renewal. The company’s general director Dmitry Petrov expects to sell 50 Mi-17 series helicopters to Indian civil operators. He said the main focus in his marketing efforts is on Indian oil-and-gas companies. “Right now we are having productive negotiations with them...our helicopters operate reliably in harsh climates serving fossil-fuel operators in our hom ecountry,” Petrov said at the Aero India show this week.