Novye Izvestia, 17/ 10/ 2006
On Monday, Air Chief Marshal Shashindra Pal Tyagi, head of the Indian Air Force, announced plans to buy 80 Mi-17-1V helicopters in the following two years.
Marshal Tyagi said all formalities will be settled by late 2006, and all helicopters shipped to India in 2008.
Russian analysts and experts reacted optimistically to the deal, but said Marshal Tyagi's statements should be taken with a grain of salt. The main state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, which is handling this and other similar deals, declined to comment. Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said Marshal Tyagi first mentioned the deal in May. However, India did not make any specific offers at that time.
The Indians are in no hurry to strike a deal, which makes experts cautious. A well-informed source in the military helicopter industry said it is very hard to cooperate with India. "The Indians talk a lot, but they do very little – India is a difficult client," he told the paper.
He said New Delhi first wanted to buy more helicopters, but subsequently opted for 80 and brought the price down.
In 2000, India bought 40 Mi-17 helicopters worth $170 million under the last major contract.
Marshal Tyagi said the revamped Mi-17-1V version has won a reputation for its performance in the high-altitude Himalayas, and was being called on to replace the Mi-8.
Experts said the entire deal would be worth about $662 million.
The Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies said Russian-Indian military cooperation accounted for less than 7% of Russia's arms exports of $6.12 billion last year.
The most expensive deals included the sale of the 877-EKM Sindugosh diesel-powered submarine, worth $80 million, the supply of 10 engine kits for Su-30MKI Flanker fighters, worth $300 million, as well as the sale of 273 Shtil-1, Club and Uran anti-ship missiles costing about $300 million.