Turkish defence electronics supplier Aselsan is reportedly aiming to secure a massive portion of the legacy Mil Mi-17/171 transport helicopter upgrade market.
As per Defense News, Aselsan identified a potential market of up to 10,000 helicopters, and has made the push for upgrading them its “most important next goal.”
Aselsan has the ability to provide a comprehensive electronics upgrade, one comprising of a glass cockpit with multi-function displays (e.g. Aselsan MFD-268E), inertial navigation system (e.g. Ln-260), new mission computers (e.g. ACCC), digital moving map display (e.g. DMAP) and new VHF/UHF/HF radios.
Notes & Comments:
An upgrade of this nature would both modernize and expand the capability-set of an Mi-17, which today has a reputation for its durability and reliability more so than sophisticated technology. This was by design – the Mi-17 was built to be affordable.
If Aselsan can provide a modular and cost-competitive upgrade path, it could potentially make in-roads in this market. The subsystems apparently on offer provide improvements in pilot workload and mission capabilities (e.g. improved navigation). Aselsan could potentially consider a deeper upgrade path involving self-protection suites for defensibility against anti-air warfare threats.
Defense News noted that emphasis may be seen in Central Asia and the Arab Gulf Peninsula. However, one can conceivably see Pakistan as a potential key market as well considering it operates many Mi-17s (50+ as per Flight Global) and is already a buyer of Aselsan equipment (e.g. the ASELPOD for the JF-17 and ARES-2SC/NS for the Agosta 90B).
In 2015, Pakistan was reportedly pushing for a complete maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility for the Mi-17 and Mi-35. It is not known where these efforts stand, but since the Mi-17 is the backbone of the Pakistan Army Aviation Corps’ transport fleet, it may still be a goal. Considering that transfer-of-technology and local production are aspects of Aselsan’s export strategy, it would be interesting if Pakistan could secure an end-to-end Mi-17/171 overhaul and upgrade capability.