The Philippine Defense Secretary canceled a $227 million contract to buy Mi-17 helicopters from Russia due to concerns about US sanctions.
The Russian Mi-17 helicopter series continues to face difficulties in the export market due to the US’s obstruction. Recently, Delfin Lorenzana, Philippine defense minister under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, on July 26 revealed that he had canceled a contract worth $ 227 million to buy 16 Mi-17 helicopters from Russia. The decision was approved by Mr. Duterte last month, just before the presidential term ends on June 30.
Lorenzana said that without canceling the deal, the Philippines could “face sanctions” from the US. He said US security officials were aware of the Philippines’ decision and could provide a similar helicopter to Manila. Philippine Ambassador to Washington Joe Manuel Romualdez said Manila would face sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) if it made a contract with Russia. Russia and the new administration of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos have not yet commented on this information.
The Russian Mi-17 helicopter can be used in combat, search and rescue operations, as well as medical evacuations in the Philippines, a country that is frequently hit by typhoons and other natural disasters, according to Philippine officials. According to an unnamed Philippine military official, the contract with Russia will go through a “cancellation process” because both parties have signed. The Russian side can appeal, but the Philippine government is unlikely to change its mind.
According to the contract signed in November 2021, the first batch of Mi-17 helicopters is expected to be delivered within two years. Mi-17 helicopter is a new variant of the legendary Mi-8 helicopter, they are equipped with new engines with larger capacity and reinforced airframe to meet the requirements of increased cargo payload.
In addition to the transport capacity, the Mi-17 can also be armed with rockets, machine gun pods and even anti-tank missiles to support ground fire, thereby turning them into light attack helicopters. The noticeable difference of the improved Mi-17 helicopter compared to the original Mi-8 is that it adds 2 more filters in front of the engine’s air intake. In addition, the tail rotor of the Mi-17 is arranged on the left instead of the right like the Mi-8 to increase the stability of the helicopter, due to the new engine has a larger capacity.
Mi-17 helicopter has a crew of 3, length is 18,465 m, rotor diameter is 21.25 m, and height is 4.76 m. The empty weight of the Mi-17 is 7,489 kg, the maximum take-off weight is 13,000 kg. The helicopter is equipped with 2 Klimov TV3-117VM engines with a capacity of 2,190 shp each for a maximum speed of 250 km/h, a flight range of 960 km, and a ceiling of 6,000 m.
Its passenger compartment can accommodate 30 fully armed soldiers. When necessary, it can carry 1,500 kg of weapons under 6 external hardpoints, including bombs, rockets, external machine guns and anti-tank missiles.