Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (File photo)

MANILA – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday said the contract for the 17 Russian-made Mil Mi-17 heavy-lift helicopters is unlikely to be scrapped for now despite the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

"No, we do not see any likelihood of (of the contract) being scrapped as of this moment," he said in a message to reporters, when asked if the project will still push through despite the conflict.

The DND chief added that the heavy-lift helicopter procurement project is a multi-year procurement contract and the delivery of the first batch will be in 24 months.

"The heavy-lift helicopter procurement project with Russia is on track. The contract was signed and the down payment (was) done before the Ukraine crisis happened," he said.

"Will the Ukraine crisis affect the project? Only time will tell," he added.

The DND chief added that the PHP12.7 billion Mil Mi-17 contract was signed last November and a down payment was made last January.

Lorenzana did not mention the amount given as a down payment.

The PAF earlier announced that it is looking at the possibility of acquiring heavy-lift helicopters as part of efforts to beef up its helicopter fleet. A heavy-lift helicopter is a type of rotary aircraft capable of lifting large numbers of personnel or cargo.

The Mil Mi-17 is a Soviet-designed Russian military helicopter family in production at two factories in Kazan and Ulan-Ude. It is known as the Mi-8M series in Russian service.

The helicopter is mostly used as a medium twin-turbine transport helicopter, as well as an armed gunship version. It has a maximum speed of 280 km/h (170 mph, 150 knots) and a range of 800 km.

The Mi-17 has a crew of two pilots and one engineer and is capable of transporting 24 soldiers or 12 stretchers internally. (PNA)