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    Russia to deliver first Mi-171 helicopter to India in 2010

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    Russia will deliver the first of 80 Mi-171 transport helicopters to India under a recent contract in 2010, an official from Russia's state arms exporter said on Wednesday.

    BANGALORE (India), February 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will deliver the first of 80 Mi-171 transport helicopters to India under a recent contract in 2010, an official from Russia's state arms exporter said on Wednesday.

    The Mi-171 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 more powerful turboshaft engines and can transport up to 37 passengers.

    "We hope that the first helicopter will be delivered to India at the start of 2010," a deputy director of Rosoboronexport, Viktor Komardin, said.

    He previously said the first helicopter would be delivered to India before the end of the year.

    Some sources estimate the new deal is worth around $662 million.

    India already has 150 Russian-made Mi-8 and Mi-17 medium-lift helicopters deployed in at least 12 squadrons.

    The Indian Air Force used Mi-17 helicopters in a commando assault on the Nariman House Jewish center in November last year, which killed some of the 10 terrorists involved in a three-day bloody rampage in Mumbai.

    Russia started this year deliveries of Mi-171 helicopters to another customer, Iran, under a $45 million contract. They will be used by Iran's Red Crescent for rescue missions and the evacuation of people injured in natural disasters.

    Russia also hopes to win a tender to provide India with six Il-78MD-90 fuel tankers, the head of the United Aircraft Corporation said at an air show in the southern city of Bangalore.

    Aero India-2009 is one the largest aerospace shows in the Asia-Pacific region, hosting leading manufacturers, vendors and suppliers from 35 countries.

    The existing Russian-Indian military cooperation program through 2010 features up to 200 projects worth about $18 billion.

    India is a key buyer of Russian weaponry, with contracts including the delivery of the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier with at least 16 MiG-29K Fulcrum-D carrier fighters, the Smerch MLRS, and licensed production of T-90 tanks in India.

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