Monday, October 20, 2008

Russian Helicopters, the Thai Military, Crappy Reporting and Dodgy Math

Army eyes Russian choppers

Bangkok Post

Wassana Nanuam

The army has decided to drop a project to repair helicopters built in the US and has approved the proposed purchase of three new helicopters from Russia, an army source said. The source said army commander Gen Anupong Paojinda had approved the proposed purchase of three MI-17 multi-role helicopters from Russia at a cost of about 950 baht million baht altogether or about 316 million baht each.

Now, look at this ad on a Thai website that coincidentally has 3 MI-17 Russian helicopters for sale:


HELICOPTERS new Mi-17 helicopters there are two options:

1/. - You can order completely new Mi-17 at Kazan Helicopters, the cost varies between USD 4.9 mln up to USD 5.1 mln depending on extras and avionics. Please note that we can organize manufacture of brand new Mi-17 helicopters at Kazan Helicopters. The basic modification Mi-17 V1 ROM price US$ 4.5 mln per civil transport/passenger unit (EX WORKS RUSSIA). The improved modification Mi-17 V5 ROM price US$ 4.9 mln per civil transport/passenger unit (EX WORKS RUSSIA). Manufacture and delivery should take up to 3calendar months and includes delivery to your buyer.

2/. - or you can order Mi-17 with completely new overhauls used equipment with very little service life (all manufactured after 2000 year): the cost of such helicopters is USD2.9 mln also depending on installed aggregates. WE HAVE 3 HELICOPTERS NOW.<----------

The Mi-17 is capable of carrying cargoes in the cabin (including long cargo) with half-open or removed doors, external loads, or passengers (24 people). The Mi-17 can carry up to 30 troops and up to 20 wounded; it can also be used for in-flight unloading of special cargoes. The transport version of the MI-17 helicopter is intended to carry cargoes (loads) in the cargo compartment, including long-size cargo with partially- opened or removed cargo doors, external loads, or executives (up to 24 persons). Interior seats are removable for cargo carrying. The rear clamshell doors open, an internal winch facilitates loading of heavy freight. Floor has tie down rings throughout. The aircraft carries a rescue hoist capable to 150 kg.

External stores are mounted on weapons racks on each side of the fuselage. The Mi-17 has six external hardpoints. The helicopter may be provided with longrange communication equipment and a radar, and it can carry equipment with phased-array antennas for suppression of enemy electronic attack and air defence facilities, such as airborne radars, air defence (artillery) weapons control radars, surveillance and target detection radars and missile radar homing heads. The ECM equipment can work both in the reconnaissance and ECM modes or in the reconnaissance mode.

OK, now here comes the dodgy math. By the way, you have to remember that the Thai military has a long, long history of making Thai generals millionaires out of dodgy weapons procurement deals.

Bangkok Post math: 1 MI-17 helicopter = 316 million baht.

1 US dollar = 34 Baht

1 MI-17 helicopter = $9, 300,000

Now, notice in the ad that this Thai company has 3 used helicopters for $2.9 million.


$ 6,400,000 profit per helicopter

Also, notice that ad is advertising brand new helicopters for roughly $5 million.

That is still a $4,000,000 and change profit per helicopter.

How much do you want to wager that the Bangkok Post reporter didn't bother to call the helicopter company or ask who the middleman was or spend time doing a search on the internet like me?

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