Sri Lanka, two years after winning a three-decade war against separatists, has bought 14 Russian military Mi-171 helicopters in the latest deal between the two allies, Russia’s state-run arms exporter said yesterday.
The announcement comes as Sri Lanka this week discussed the exploration and purchase of natural gas with Russia’s natural gas monopoly Gazprom, in what may herald the return of Russian oil explorers to the island’s waters.
Anatoly Isaykin, the General Director at Russia’s state-run arm exporter Rosoboronexport, said yesterday that there had been, “Delivery of the helicopters to Sri Lanka. It is a good transport vehicle and it fulfils its function.”
The Spokesmen for Sri Lanka’s defence ministry and air force both said they were unaware of the deal for the Mi-171s. But air force spokesman Group Captain Andrew Wijesuriya said the military was aiming to expand its foray into civilian tourism.
“We are looking to contribute for civil air transportation industry through the expansion of our Helitours operations,” Wijesuriya said, referring to the military’s post-war repurposing of aircraft for tourism.
Sri Lanka, which has a $50bn economy, forecast a 6.3 percent increase in defence spending to 215.2bn ($1.9bn) in 2011 and its high military spending since the end of the war has drawn opposition criticism.
Russia’s Ulan-Ude Aviation Works built the choppers and makes four variants, including military and VIP transport versions, Russia’s state-run news agency ITAR-TASS said.
“A corresponding contract for supplying the helicopters will be carried out on account of the Russian state credit given to Sri Lanka by Russia in 2010 for purchasing Russian armaments,” ITAR-TASS said, without mentioning the total deal cost.
Since the end of the war with Tamil Tigers separatists in May 2009, Russia, China and India have been increasing cooperation with Sri Lanka’s government and are among its biggest benefactors in terms of global political capital.
Russia and China, both with UN Security Council vetoes, take a general stand that states have a right to police internal conflicts without outside interference. They have been Sri Lanka’s bulwarks against Western pressure to probe allegations of war crimes from the final months of the conflict. (Source: REUTERS)
Doesn`t matter if we buy two or one but let it be brand new !!
Appu Thursday, 18 August 2011 04:29 AM
Now every cabinet minister will have one helicopter.
Adam Thursday, 18 August 2011 04:32 AM
Probably they are going to use them as Air Taxi.
Adam Thursday, 18 August 2011 04:39 AM
This is what we call "Wasting Tax payers Money"
We Sri Lankan Thursday, 18 August 2011 04:42 AM
Samantha Thursday, 18 August 2011 04:46 AM
Some one would have made millions as commissions...
MILROY Friday, 19 August 2011 02:42 AM
This should not be a priority
Athens Friday, 19 August 2011 04:45 AM
this all what we need to go for the miracle of Asia
DN Thursday, 18 August 2011 03:01 AM
If this is for purpose of tourism, why Government don’t buy those helicopters for Sri Lankan Air. Anyway the finally money will go from treasury ( common man tax ) . Or isn't there any other useful way of spending these funds ?
KodeNathiSriLankan Thursday, 18 August 2011 03:02 AM
Civil tourism by the air force?
Lankan Thursday, 18 August 2011 03:10 AM
To Fight "Grease Yakkas" ?
Comments will be edited (grammar, spelling and slang) and authorized at the discretion of Daily Mirror online. The website also has the right not to publish selected comments.