Russian Helicopters announced earlier this year that it had built the 3,500th export version of the Mi-17 at Kazan Helicopters, a number which makes it perhaps the most successful helicopter model of all time.
First introduced in 1977, the Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters has been sold to over 65 countries including the US, India, Afghanistan, Iraq and China among others.
In 2012-13, India ordered a further 71 helicopters, which are currently being built by Russian Helicopters to the agreed schedule.
After cancelling the VVIP-helicopter deal with AgustaWestland, India turned to Russian Helicopters to supply 12 Mi-17s in the VVIP transport configuration, the Rostec state corporation said in a press release in January.
The Mi-17V-5 helicopter was chosen by India’s Special Protection Group (of the 150 helicopters already delivered to India) for escorting the most important politicians in India during the elections earlier this year.
Russian Mi-17 helos have been a force multiplier for the Afghan military and police in their fight against the Taliban, a top US general has acknowledged.
"I think they (Mi-17) have been a force multiplier for the special operating forces and for the conventional forces, the army and the police, they have been mostly moving forces and providing resupply," US Army Gen. John F. Campbell said last month.
There are currently 84 Mi-17 helicopters being used by Afghan forces and an additional three more are expected, Campbell said.
Meanwhile, Russia and Nigeria have signed a contract in September for the supply of Mi-171Sh and Mi-35 helicopters.
Rosoboronexport deputy general director Sergei Goreslavsky, said, "The Mi-171Sh machine is in steady demand on the foreign market. A contract with Nigeria was recently signed.”
According to him, Mozambique is very much interested in the rotorcraft. Rosoboronexport’s top manager said several Mi-35M"s will be also sent to Nigeria, without specifying the number of machines under the contract, Ria Novosti reported.
Nepal awarded Rosoboronexport a contract to supply Mil Mi-17V-5 military transport helicopters to the Army earlier this year. The government had already allocated over $30 million for the procurement of new twin turbine transport helicopters early last year. Deliveries under the contract are scheduled this year.
The Mi-17 is a medium weight, single rotor helicopter. The construction primarily incorporates the airframe of a Mi-8 with the power train of the Mi-24, which provides an increase in performance and gross weight over the basic Mi-8. The aircraft is configured with a five bladed main rotor system (70 ft diameter), and a wheeled landing gear.
It is a multirole helicopter used as a supply craft or be very heavily armed with an extensive array or rockets, misslies and guns.
It is often used for air assault by infantry forces, reinforce units in contact or disrupt counterattacks. Additional missions include; attack, direct air support, electronic warfare, airborne early warning, medevac, search and rescue, and minelaying.
Despite several accidents, the Mi-17 is considered relatively safe as the number of accidents compared to the helicopters in service have been few. Among its most notable accidents is the crash of a Vietnam People's Air Force Mi-171 military helicopter on the outskirts of Hanoi while on a training mission for parachute recruits earlier this year. According to reports, among 21 men on board, 16 died, 5 others were severely injured.