The Mozambican government has reportedly expressed interest in buying around six Russian helicopters as early as next year, according to Russian Industry and Trade minister Denis Manturov.
Manturov was speaking on arrival in Moscow after leading a trade delegation that included helicopter manufacturers to Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Manturov told the Itar-Tass news service that in the interim, Mozambique will most likely acquire two Kazan Ansat-U and four Mi-17 helicopters. He said ongoing discussions between the Russian and Mozambican governments are focused on the modernization and possible sale of various versions of the Mi-17 military helicopter. “Most likely, we will sell two Ansat helicopters to Mozambique since we are now working actively with our South African partners (Denel Aviation) on the project of joint modernization of these helicopters,” Manturov said.
He said Mozambique is an emerging market and there are clear indications that Russian Helicopters may sell a number of helicopters to the country in the near future. “They want such helicopters. Moreover, they want a great number of such helicopters, but the possibilities are limited. Initially, I think we will sell five or six helicopters and this could be done in 2013. The negotiating process is not yet over.”
The Ansat-U is a light, multi-purpose helicopter designed for pilot training. It can carry a maximum internal load of 1 tonne or 10 passengers, in addition to the pilot. It is used by the Russian Air Force for pilot training.
The Ansat-U, which made its maiden flight in 1999, is a product of Kazan Helicopters which is a subsidiary of Russian Helicopters.
The Mi-17 is a medium multi-purpose helicopter which can carry up to 36 troopers and has a provision for carrying up to 12 wounded personnel on stretchers. The military version can be equipped with Shturm V missiles, S-8 rockets and gun pods.
If Mozambique does buy the Mi-17s, they will be maintained in South Africa by state-owned company Denel Aviation.
Russian Helicopters and Denel Aviation on September 19 this year signed an agreement that makes Denel the only sub-Saharan Africa company to be accredited to provide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services for all Russian Helicopters models.
So far, Russian Helicopters has sold more than 280 helicopters across the African continent.
Mozambique urgently needs to modernise its air force, as it has no operational combat assets and has almost ceased to exist operationally, according to the Jane’s Information Group, which states that the service has suffered poor serviceability since independence from Portugal in 1975, and the collapse of the Soviet Union and its financial support in the early 1990s.
According to the IISS’s The Military Balance 2011, none of the Mozambican Air Force’s combat aircraft are operational, with only a few transports (two Antonov An-26s, two CASA 212s and a Cessna 182) and several Zlin Z-326 trainers still flying.
On July 4 Mozambican air force received a major boost with the delivery of a second FTB-337G Milirole utility aircraft from Portugal, to be used primarily for flight training. The first Reims Aviation Milirole aircraft was officially delivered to the Força Aérea de Moçambique on March 3, 2011.
The aircraft are supplied under the CTM (Cooperação Técnico-Militar) technical military cooperation agreement between Mozambique and Portugal. This agreement also includes training – the Portuguese Air Force is working with the Mozambique Air Force on pilot and ground crew training in both countries.
The aircraft will be used for medical evacuations, pilot training and maritime surveillance – the latter is an important role as Somali pirates are reaching ever further south and several have strayed into Mozambican waters – earlier this year a group of pirates was captured off the coast