Friday, July 23, 2010

Peru clinches $250 mln deal to buy 8 Russian helicopters

The Peruvian Defense Ministry and Russian state-controlled arms exporter Rosoboronexport have signed a contract for the sale of eight Russian-built helicopters to the South American country, the Russian company said on Friday.

It said the contract for the delivery of six Mi-171Sh Hip transport and two Mi-35P Hind attack helicopters was signed on Thursday in Lima.

The Russian agency said deliveries would start later this year and would be completed in 2011.

According to some media reports, the deal is worth $250 million.

Peruvian Defense Minister Rafael Rey was quoted as saying that the helicopters were to support military operations "in the fight against narcoterrorism."

Peru is one of South America's main cocaine producers along with Bolivia and Columbia.

The helicopters are expected to be used to fight with "drug terrorism" in the Valley of the Apurimac and Ene River. The area was declared a zone of military operations in August 2009 as fighting between the government troops and the Shining Path Maoist guerilla group intensified.

Shining Path is believed to have strong ties with drug traffickers. The group is on the U.S. and EU lists of terrorist organizations.

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