Sri Lanka to purchase 14 Mi-17s?

Sri Lanka to purchase 14 Mi-17s? 29 Aug, 11, Source: HeliHub.com

Reports from local website TamilNet suggests that Sri Lanka is negotiating to purchase 14 military spec Mi-17s, with a 43-strong delegation visiting Russia to negotiate the deal in June 2011.  The helicopters are to be built at the Ulan-Ude Aviation Works factory.  A defence analyst expressed surprise at the size of the order, given the local war finished around two years ago, but this overlooks the most unusual situation in Sri Lanka, where the military operates “civil” flights.

The Sri Lankan Air Force rent out helicopters under the business name of Helitours – and boldly state their vision “to be the leading domestic airline in Sri Lanka” on their web page.  The organisation operates a helicopter fleet including Mi-17, Bell 206, 212 and 412 plus some fixed wing Y12 aircraft.  Assuming the expansion of Mi-17s is focused on the Helitours operation, it would suggest more tourism flights, and/or an increase in scheduled services.

Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com

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