China will obtain 55 Mil Mi-171E transport helicopters as it seeks to further bolster its tactical airlift capabilities. According to an industry source, Russian state export firm Rosoboronexport signed the deal with Beijing in July.
The aircraft will be produced at the Ulan-Ude Aviation factory, located in the southern Russian province of Buryatia.
The source confirmed reports about the deal, under which China will obtain the helicopters at $10-12 million per example. This values the deal at between $550 million and $660 million.
Despite efforts to bolster its helicopter fleet, the tactical airlift capabilities of the People's Liberation Army are seen as lagging behind those of Western powers. The lack of vertical lift transport is a major shortcoming in disaster relief operations, such as during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
The Mi-171E, which can carry up to 37 passengers, is an export variant of the Mi-8/17 family.