More Mi-17s for Sri Lanka

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(click to view full) In mid-July 2012, Russia’s Rosoboronexport announced an order from Sri Lanka for another 14 Mi-171 helicopters, to be built at the Ulan-Ude plant. The SLAF started operating Mi-17s in 1993, and the current fleet of 13-18 machines equips No. 6 Helicopter Squadron at Anuradhapura, in north-central Sri Lanka. The additional buy is part of a $300 million, 10-year loan to buy equipment for Sri Lanka’s military, which was signed during a 2012 state visit to Russia. Why buy more helicopters? SLAF spokesman Group Captain Andrew Wijesuriya told Reuters they were buying them for civilian tourism. Oddly enough, that’s probably at least partly true… SLAF Mi-17(click to view full) Sri Lanka’s air force does operate an effort called Helitours, which uses the SLAF’s array of Huey, Jet Ranger and Mi-17 helicopters, as well as its Chinese Y-12 and Ukranian AN-32B fixed-wing transports. It’s more about short-haul transport than sightseeing tours, but the government’s full victory over the Tamil Tigers is expected to open the island for more tourism, as well as other economic activity. Repurposing the SLAF to support that expansion is politically shrewd, and makes extra funds available to the military now that major hostilities are […]

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