The Philippine News Agency reported that the Philippines–Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday said the contract for the 17 Russian-made Mil Mi-17 helicopters is unlikely to be scrapped for now despite the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The helicopter procurement project is a multi-year procurement contract and the delivery of the first batch will be in 24 months. The PHP12.7 billion Mil Mi-17 contract was signed last November and a down payment was made last January.
“No, we do not see any likelihood of (of the contract) being scrapped as of this moment. The heavy-lift helicopter procurement project with Russia is on track. The contract was signed and the down payment (was) done before the Ukraine crisis happened. Will the Ukraine crisis affect the project? Only time will tell”, Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a message to reporters, when asked if the project will still push through despite the conflict.
The Philippine Air Force (PAF; Tagalog: Hukbong Himpapawid ng Pilipinas) earlier announced that it is looking at the possibility of acquiring heavy-lift helicopters as part of efforts to beef up its helicopter fleet. In recent months, the Philippines signed several deals to modernize its aging military equipment, including the $627 million contract signed last month for 32 32 S-70i Black Hawk helicopters from Polish company PZL Mielec. A heavy-lift helicopter is a type of rotary aircraft capable of lifting large numbers of personnel or cargo.
The Mil Mi-17 (NATO reporting name: Hip) is a Soviet-designed Russian military helicopter family in production at two factories in Kazan and Ulan-Ude. It is known as the Mi-8M series in Russian service. The helicopter is mostly used as a medium twin-turbine transport helicopter, as well as an armed gunship version. It has a maximum speed of 280 km/h (170 mph, 150 knots) and a range of 800 km. The Mi-17 has a crew of two pilots and one engineer and is capable of transporting 24 soldiers or 12 stretchers internally.