The Southern Sudan Army is to acquire ten Mi-17 Russian helicopters to transport troops, under a contract signed in May 2007.

The spokesman for Sudan’s army, Al-Sawarmi Khaled, said the Sudanese Government was informed about the purchase and that the aircraft were for civilian purposes.

The aircraft is an upgraded version of the model first used by Russia in 1979 and is manufactured by the Russian Kazan Helicopters, according to Bloomberg.

International Crisis Group Horn of Africa project director EJ Hogendoorn said the Mi-17 was a military transport helicopter, but could be used for civilian purposes too.

The first batch of helicopters is scheduled to be delivered in Uganda in May 2010, according to a March 2009 supplement to the contract.