Asia Defense

India, Russia in Advanced Talks for 48 Additional M-17-V5 Helicopters

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Asia Defense

India, Russia in Advanced Talks for 48 Additional M-17-V5 Helicopters

The Indian defense ministry is in the final stages of concluding an agreement for the purchase of 48 M-17-V5 helicopters from Russia.

India, Russia in Advanced Talks for 48 Additional M-17-V5 Helicopters
Credit: Russian Helicopters

The Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Russian Helicopters — Russia’s sole rotorcraft designer — are in the final stages of concluding an agreement for the purchase of 48 additional Mi-17-V5 military transport/utility helicopters for $1.1 billion for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), according to local media reports.

According to local sources, price negotiations for the 48 helicopters have been completed, with the final contract likely to be inked during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to India in early October. The contract contains the mandatory offset obligation of 30 percent, which requires all vendors to invest 30 percent of the overall contract value into the Indian defense industry sector.

Of the 48 helicopters, 38 are earmarked for service in the IAF; the rest will go to the MHA. Overall, India operates a total of 151 Mi-17V-5 helicopters.

Rosoboronexport, the Russian state intermediary agency responsible for the import and export of military hardware, signed an initial contract on behalf of Russian Helicopters for the delivery of 80 Mi-17V-5 helicopters to India. In 2012 and 2013, Rosoboronexport signed follow-on contractors for an additional 71 Mi-17V-5 helicopters. The Indian MoD has been mulling placing an additional order for 48 choppers since at least 2015, when Indian Defense Acquisition Council  approved the purchase of 48 extra helicopters for $1.1 billion.

In February 2016, I described the technical specifications and capabilities of the Mi-17V-5:

Produced by Russian Helicopters […] at its Kazan Helicopter Plant, the Mi-17V-5 is based on the Mi-8 airframe and is one of the most advanced aircraft of the Mi-8/17 helicopter family. Every Mi-17V-5 helicopter is equipped with night vision technology, on-board weather radar, a new PKV-8 autopilot system, and a KNEI-8 avionics suite, which, according to a Russian Helicopters press release, results “in a very clear and intuitive cockpit with four large multi-functional displays that are easy to read and help reduce pilot fatigue.” The system purportedly also helps reduce pre-flight inspection time.

Fitted with powerful engines for “hot and high” conditions, the Mi-17V-5 helicopter boasts a top speed of 250 kilometers per hour (155 miles per hour), and has an operational range of 580 kilometers (360 miles), which can be extended to 1065 kilometers (661 miles) when equipped with two auxiliary fuel tanks. The helicopter’s operational ceiling is 6,000 meters (20,000 feet) and the IAF has repeatedly used the aircraft to supply Indian Army units stationed on the Siachen glacier in the Himalayas.

The Mi-17V-5’s maximum takeoff weight is 13,000 kilogram and the chopper can carry 36 persons or 4,000 kilograms of cargo inside the cabin, with an additional 4,500 kilogram payload attached on an external sling. The aircraft can be employed for a host of different missions including troop and cargo transport, fire support, patrol, and search and rescue missions.

The Mi-17V-5 will constitute the backbone of the IAF’s transport/utility helicopter fleet for the foreseeable future. India and Russia are also in advanced talks over the purchase of five regiments of Russian-made S-400 “Triumf” advanced Air Defense Systems (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) notwithstanding possible U.S. sanctions. The contract value is estimated around $5.5 billion.