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Burkina Faso orders two Mi-171Sh helicopters from Russia

An Mi-171Sh helicopter.Burkina Faso’s military has ordered two Mi-171Sh armed helicopters from Russian Helicopters, and these will be delivered in 2018.

The order was announced on 25 August at the Army 2017 defence exhibition in Russia by Sergey Kornev, the deputy director general of the state arms export agency Rosoboronexport.

He said that Rosoboronexport had signed two contracts with the West African nation: one for the helicopters and another for air-launched weapons.

"At the moment, they are considering a possibility of buying defence industry products from us for other branches of the armed forces," Kornev added.

The Mi-171Sh is equipped with two VK-2500 or TV3-117VM engines, armour and a defensive aids suite. It can be fitted with rockets, missiles and gun pods. It can carry up to 37 paratroopers, and cargo of up to 4 000 kg. Ghana has also received four of the type.

Burkina Faso already flies Mi-17 and Mi-24P helicopters, with a couple of each in service, along with a handful of Alouette III, AS350 and AS365N Dauphin helicopters. A single AW139 was delivered in 2016. The country recently received two UH-1H Huey helicopters from Taiwan.

The UH-1Hs, donated by Taiwan, were handed over on 6 June this year, and will be used to combat terrorism, amongst other duties, including humanitarian assistance. They will be armed for the combat role.

Burkina Faso’s air force was until relatively recent incapable of combat but has been undergoing expansion in recent years, receiving two Mi-35s from Russia in 2005 and three Super Tucanos from Brazil in 2011. In spite of the acquisition of combat aircraft, the air arm is geared for border surveillance and similar missions.

Rosoboronexport also received several other helicopter orders during Army 2017, including a contract for four Mi-171E helicopters for China and a contract for three Mi-8AMTSh helicopters for the Russian government.

The Russian Ministry of Defence said the first few days of Army 2017 saw the signature of 23 contracts. According to Russian Deputy Defence Minister Yuri Borisov, the Russian Armed Forces are to receive more than 600 new and 200 modernised items of equipment, including 100 Armata tanks by 2020.

More than 1 200 companies and organizations took part in Army 2017 last week, demonstrating over 18 500 products and solutions, including the Armata tank, Kurganets and Boomerang infantry fighting vehicles.

Companies from 78 foreign countries also took part in Army 2017, including several from South Africa, which was exhibiting for the first time.