Yet More Mil Mi-17s Going to India
The Indian Defense Ministry has asked Russia for the sale of an additional 48 Mil Mi-17V5 Helicopters worth an estimated
$1.1 billion. The new order was discussed at the Aero India show earlier this year, and apparently again during a meeting
between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this month in the Russian city of
Ufa. Historically, big sales of Russian equipment into India have been agreed in principle at personal meetings between
Putin and his Indian counterparts.
India has already ordered 151 Mi-17V5s, in batches of 80 and 71, of which 121 have been delivered, with the remainder to
follow by year-end, according to Russian Helicopters. The combined total of Mi-17s and older Mi-8s serving in India now
numbers more than 300. According to Russian sources, the contract can be signed later this year and come into force after
all necessary bureaucratic approvals in 2016.
Deputy head of Russian Helicopters Andrei Shibitov told reporters that Russia’s manufacturing capacity is up to 250 Mi-
8/17 series rotorcraft a year, with the air forces of India, China and Russia the largest buyers of such equipment. He
said that a number of Mi-8s shipped to India in the times of the Soviet Union are reaching the end of their lives and are
inneed of replacement. “I think this fact causes concern to the Indian side and so we are looking forward to expanding our
In the meantime, the two sides continue discussions about how to arrange and set up a Mi-17 and Ka-226T assembly site in
India. The new Mi-17 contract is likely to come with an offset agreement under which the supplier has to re-invest more
than 30 percent of the contract sum into the local industry. So far, all of the Russian equipment manufactured under
license agreements in India was assembled by public-sector companies. But since Modi came to power, Indo-Russian military
technical cooperation has been undergoing major changes, with the aim of involving Indian private capital in the joint
defense programs. New Delhi recently gave Moscow a list of suitable Indian private businesses from which to choose.
The front runner among these appears to be Pipavev, which is now part of the Reliance Group. The Indian press reported
this month that Pipavev is likely to get an Indian navy contract for the upgrade of its Russian-built Kilo-class
submarines. It has already been selected by Russia’s marine electronics specialists Morinformsystem-Agat as its local
partner. Pipavev has also reportedly been tapped to build three Russian-designed frigates for the Indian navy, a project
worth $3 billion. Pipavev is also a strong candidate to lead an integrated coastal protection system that would include
shore-based facilities; Kamov helicopters; Ilyushin maritime patrol aircraft; and mobile missile complexes.