Russia will open helicopter maintenance center in Peru despite US warning
"We work in close collaboration with our Peruvian colleagues in the creation of a mobile service center for the service of multipurpose Mi-171Sh helicopters near the city of Arequipa," said on the company's post-sales general assistant director, Igor.Chechikov. The Mi-17 is a twin-engine helicopter that can carry anti-tank guided missiles. It is also used in troop transport and civil uses.
"We plan to complete this work this year and help our colleagues during the first repairs of the helicopters," Chechikov said. After Cuba five decades ago, Peru was the second Latin American country to acquire aircraft and weapons of the then Soviet Union. The Peruvian Air Force continues to use Russian MiG 29 and Sukhoi 25 combat aircraft, although it also has French fighters and US transport and reconnaissance vessels.
The Russian helicopter maintenance center in Arequipa will provide services especially to Peru, Venezuela, Brazil, and Mexico, although these Russian aircraft operate throughout Latin America, the company said. Venezuela, which traditionally supplied itself with weapons and aircraft in the United States, has sought in recent years military supplies and assistance from Russia and China, as tensions with Washington increase.
"In 12 countries in North and South America, from Mexico to Chile, more than 370 Soviet and Russian-made helicopters, both civilian and military, are being operated today," the company said in a statement. "In Peru, more than 90 Soviet-Russian civilian and military Mi-8/17 helicopters are registered."
Recent US warning
On a visit to Chile in April, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Latin American countries to be cautious in their relations with China and Russia, saying they "cheat", ignore the rules and "propagate the mess". Chechikov made the announcement in the framework of the VII International Exhibition of Technology for the Defense and Prevention of Disasters (Sitdef), inaugurated last Thursday by Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra at the headquarters of the Army General Headquarters in Lima.
"Only Peru must decide with whom to work (...) because Peru is not a state of the United States," said the company's deputy general manager of after-sales services, Igor Chechikov, on the criticisms made by Mike Pompeo.
After the announcement, the company defended Friday its right to sell military and civil aircraft to Latin American nations, such as Peru or Venezuela, despite criticism from the United States.
"I think it is a rather unreasonable position (Pompeo's), because Peru is an independent country," Chechikov added at a press conference in the framework of the VII International Defense Technology Exhibition (Sitdef), at the headquarters of the Army General Headquarters in Lima.