In 2016, Moscow and Beijing signed an agreement to cooperate on the development of advanced civilian helicopters for the Chinese market. The JSC Russian Helicopter Company, which is part of the Rostec state corporation, provided Chinese partners in developing the rotary aircraft.

China has become the largest operator of Russian helicopters in the Asia-Pacific region, and this has come about after years of cooperation between companies in the two nations.

JSC Russian Helicopters supplied China General Aviation Services Co Ltd. with the multi-purpose Mil Mi-171 that include an auxiliary power unit SAFIR, designed to supply air to engine starters or environmental control systems, which allows transporting bulky cargo of up to 4 tons.

The Mi-17S was introduced into the world market in 2002 and has been widely exported via the Russian state-owned special exporter Rosobornexport to customers in the Middle East, South-East Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.

Originally designed as a transport, the Mi-171Sh can be deployed in a range of missions including the airlifting of assault forces, transportation of cargoes, troop fire support, air-to-surface attack, escort of military columns, medical evacuation and combat search and rescue (CSAR) operations. The helicopter, which was designed and developed to operate in all weather conditions day or night, features a five-bladed main rotor, a tail rotor and non-retractable tricycle nose-wheel landing gear. The glassed-in cockpit can accommodate three crew members while the main cabin can house up to 36 troops or up to 12 casualties on stretchers.

Going All In:

This week Defence-Blog reported that China has now placed a new order with the Russian firm to supply an additional 121 aircraft. According to Rostec’s annual report, the contract from the government in Beijing as well as private enterprises is for sixty-eight Mi-171 helicopters including the upgrade Mi-171E; eighteen Mi-171Sh military transport helicopters; and fourteen Mi-171 helicopters with VK-2500 engines. An additional twenty-one Ansat helicopters are also part of the deal.

The bulk of the order is for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), but it is unclear in what capacity the helicopters might be used, but it would like be similar to the roles it is employed in with the Russian military. It would likely be used alongside the Chinese built Z-8L transport helicopter.

In August, the Russian military announced that it was upgrading the Mi-171Sh Storm, which would be equipped with guided missiles. However, at the time media reported that the new model wouldn’t enter production for two years.

The Mi-171Sh is the latest updated version of the Mi-17, which entered service in the Soviet Red Army in the 1970s and which saw use as an armed gunship version – comparable to the American Bell UH-1 Iroquois (Huey). This enhanced version of the Storm helicopter, which also reportedly features enhanced protection and displays improved striking capabilities, was displayed at the Army-2020 outside of Moscow.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Would Cheaper, Smaller Submarines Be a Better Fit for the Navy?

Key point: Another generation of submarines is needed for the fleet. But should they necessarily be expensive, high-tech boats? The U.S. Navy already is beginning to plan for its next class of attack submarine, a high-tech — and potentially very expensive…

Is America Vulnerable to a North Korean Missile Attack?

In a nail-biting horror show of North Korean doomsday bluster, Pyongyang’s missile launches met with U.S. resolve. While President Donald Trump promised fire and fury, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that the United States would shoot down North Korean…

Russia Lost this Nuclear Submarine (and Lost Two Nuclear Weapons)

Here’s What You Need To Remember: The death of forty-two of the sixty-nine crew aboard, most of them after they had successfully abandoned ship, caused an uproar in Russia. An investigation concluded nine years later without finding any one responsible. In…

Iran Has A New Powerful Cruise Missile, But It Isn’t All That It Seems

Key point: Iran has a history of unveiling wonder weapons that aren’t so wonderful. The newest Iranian weapon, the Mobin, was displayed at the MAKS 2019 defense trade show in Russia in August. The cruise missile has a range of 450…