Russia and the United States will set up a maintenance center for Mil Mi-17 helicopters bought by Washington for the Afghan armed forces, Deputy Director of the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation Vyacheslav Dzirkaln said on Thursday.
The United States signed a contract on the purchase of 21 Mi-17V5 military transport helicopters from Russia for $367.5 million on May 26.
"We have agreed that this [Mi-17] joint project with the U.S. will encompass this kind of facility on the territory of Afghanistan because the transportation of helicopters to Europe for repairs would be too expensive," Dzirkaln said.
The Mi-17 is an export version of the Mi-8 Hip helicopter. Currently in production at two factories in the Russian Volga area city of Kazan and the East Siberian city of Ulan-Ude, it features powerful turboshaft engines and can transport up to 35 troops.
The Mi-17V5 version is equipped with a loading ramp instead of the clam-shell doors, an additional door and a new "dolphin nose".
The first helicopters will be sent to Afghanistan in October 2011.