The provincial government of Balochistan has concluded a contract with Russian Helicopters for a Mi-171 civil helicopter, reported Russian news agency Tass on Monday.

"The helicopter is expected to be handed over in the first half of 2017," the Russian company said.

This is the first civilian contract for supply of aircraft between Pakistan and a Russian manufacturer, said Russian Helicopters.

"The helicopter will have 14 VIP seats and 26 seats for other passengers. In case of medical emergencies, the seats can be replaced with 14 stretchers," said a senior official of Balochistan's finance department while confirming the development.

He added the helicopter costs $15.2 million and confirmed the aircraft will be delivered by mid-February.

The provincial government is expected to employ the helicopter for passenger and cargo transportation, medical sorties, and emergency response.

"Our win in the tender is a characteristic indication of Russian helicopters being the most suitable for operation in this region. We expect authorities of Pakistan will continue increasing supply volumes of the Russian equipment in future. Preconditions for that already exist," Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Russian holding Alexander Scherbinin said.

The Mi-171 is the civilian version of the Mi-17 military cargo helicopter, which is already in service with the Pakistan Army. The Mi-17 is widely used across the world due to its reliability and ability to operate in all climates.

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