President John Dramani Mahama on Saturday commissioned four new MI 171 SH Helicopters with the assurance that government would provide all the logistics for the military to execute their domestic and international assignments.
He also commissioned an ultra-modern logistics warehouse for maintenance and preservation of all the necessary equipment for the helicopters at the Ghana Air Force Base.
President Mahama said the arrival of the four helicopters formed part of government’s retooling exercise for the military to protect the territorial waters of Ghana and to play a leading peacekeeping role on the African continent and beyond.
The MI 171 SH Helicopter, which was manufactured by Rosoboron Exporters of Russia, has a normal weight of 11,100 kilogrammes with a maximum of 13,000 kilogrammes, a main tank capacity of 610 kilometres with the main and external tank capacity of 1065 kilometres.
The helicopter, when converted into a troop carrier version, can transport a maximum of 34 fully equipped soldiers and carry a total of 4000 kilogrammes weight when converted into a cargo version.
As an ambulance, the MI 171 SH Helicopter can carry 12 cases on stretchers and transport 3,500 litres of water for fire fighting when fitted with a ‘bambi’ bucket.
President Mahama said the helicopter, which was capable of performing search and rescue operations at a hover whilst lifting weights of up to 300 kilogrammes, was a multi-purpose armoured military helicopter that would engage the Air Force staff throughout the year.
He said the arrival of the helicopters would also save government the embarrassment of having to hire private helicopters for presidential official assignments.
“I can assure you that the perennial resignation of the Air Force pilots to join private companies will also end as a result of these helicopters,” he said.
Lieutenant General Joseph Henry Smith, Minister of Defence, said the helicopters had a package of training the staff of the Air Force and they would take advantage to provide more capacity building for them.
He said the helicopters were fitted with exhaust that could suppress warfare measures and advised the staff to make maximum use of the facility.
Mr Vladmir V. Barbin, Russian Ambassador to Ghana, said Russia had over the years enjoyed good relations with Ghana and the current transaction would further strengthen their relationship with mutual respect and trust.