The Croatian air force is to receive up to 15 new Mil Mi-8MTV/17 utility helicopters as part of a Russian debt repayment, according to a report in the Croatian newspaper, Vecernji. Forged last month during talks between presidents Stjepan Mesic and Vladimir Putin, the deal overrides an earlier proposal to supply Croatia with two Beriev Be-200 amphibious firefighting aircraft, writes Igor Salinger in Belgrade.

The aircraft, worth $45-60 million, are likely to be equipped with NATO-standard avionics to support Croatia's moves to join the alliance. Deliveries are expected in 2007-8. Croatia already has 19 Mi-8/17s, although 10 of these are undergoing maintenance and upgrade in Ukraine, and only a few of the remainder are serviceable.

Source: Flight International