Russian Helicopters Holding Company will upgrade the multi-role Mi-17 helicopters operated by the air forces of Mexico, Lenta.ru reports with reference to sources close to the enterprise. According to the sources, at least 9 vehicles of the type were delivered to Russia by two An-124-100 transport aircraft during the period from mid-June to early July 2014. The first upgraded Mi-17 will be delivered to Mexico in 2015.
No details related to work carried out in the network of this contract have been unveiled. In May 2014 Mexican air forces stated that their fleet comprises 19 multi-role Mi-17 helicopters and two Mi-8Ts. Presumably, all the vehicles to be overhauled will be upgraded by Russian enterprises.
Most likely that the contract for upgrading the helicopters was signed in December 2013, when the Mexican Ministry of Defense purchased 14 new Mi-17 helicopters (manufactured by Russian Helicopters) worth $284.8 million. The new helicopters will be delivered to National Forestry Commission of Mexico; the vehicles will be used for fire-fighting. These helicopters will be piloted by the pilots of Mexican air forces.
Initially Mexican air forces operated 24 Mi-17 helicopters purchased in two batches (each one included 12 vehicles of the type) in 1996 and 1998. The deliveries were completed in 1999. The same year Mexico purchased 12 used Mi-8T helicopters; later most of them were replaced by new multi-role EC725 Caracal helicopters.
The purchase of new helicopters and upgrade of the currently operated vehicles are carried out by the Mexican Ministry of Defense in the network of a national program aimed at expanding the combat capabilities of Mexican air forces. The program will be implemented during 2013-2018 period; under this document the number of helicopters operated by the country’s air forces will be increased from 47 to 138 ones. So far the Mexican air forces have placed an order for 18 UH-60M Black Hawk (USA) and six AW109SP (Italy) helicopters.
Mexico plans to purchase 53 more new helicopters by 2018, however, the type of these vehicles has not been unveiled.