TechColombia rejects US offer to purchase Mi-17 helicopters for Ukraine

Colombia rejects US offer to purchase Mi‑17 helicopters for Ukraine

Mi-17 helicopters can also carry weapons on attached pylons.
Mi-17 helicopters can also carry weapons on attached pylons.
Images source: © Licensor

2:54 PM EDT, March 29, 2024

Defense Express reports that the United States offered Colombia $300 million to buy all 20 of its Russian Mi-17 helicopters, intending to send them to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. However, Bogota declined the offer for multiple reasons.

The proposal aimed to replicate a deal like the one with Ecuador, where military equipment of Soviet production was traded for new, American-made alternatives. Despite this, political and military leaders in Colombia did not endorse the deal. According to the Info Defensa website, Colombian President Gustavo Petro sought to preserve neutrality in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine - a sale of the helicopters would have compromised this stance. Moreover, the military desired to retain the Mi-17 helicopters for their transport capabilities.

Why Colombia's Mi-17s won't be heading to Ukraine

Defense Express points out that the oldest Colombian Mi-17 helicopters have been operational for 27 years, most are "essentially inoperable," and plans are to phase them out by 2027. The site mentions difficulties repairing the helicopters, arising from sanctions and the inability to execute signed service contracts, which led Colombia to refuse the sale.

The Mi-17 helicopters (known by the NATO reporting name "Hip") would be highly beneficial for Ukraine. Ukrainian forces are already familiar with this helicopter type and face a shortfall in aircraft. The Mi-17, a medium Soviet twin-turbine transport helicopter, can also be a combat helicopter. It evolved from the Mi-8 helicopter, designed for export with larger engines (Klimov TV3-117MT turboshaft engines), the use of rotor and gearbox technology from the Mi-14 helicopters, and an enhanced fuselage for heavier load capabilities.

Requiring a three-person crew, the Mi-17 can transport 24 soldiers, 12 stretchers, or up to 8,818 lbs of cargo. It achieves a maximum speed of 155 mph with a range of 289 miles. Its standard armament includes 7.62 mm and 12.7 mm machine guns, capable of carrying up to 3,307 lbs of weaponry, such as free-fall bombs, missiles, or guided projectiles like the 9M17P Scorpion anti-tank guided missile and the 9K114 Shturm.

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