WARSAW, Poland — Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Defence Ministry has unveiled plans to purchase 32 new transport helicopters for the country’s armed forces to replace its Soviet-designed Mil Mi-8 helos.

To finance the planned procurement and a number of other “high-priority projects” in the field of defense, the ministry has requested an increase in funding from the Bosnian government. A ministry spokesperson told local broadcaster Radio Sarajevo that the first two new transport helicopters with related equipment are to be purchased next year.

The helo acquisition is estimated to be worth some 65 million marks (U.S. $40 million).

While Bosnia and Herzegovina aspires to join NATO, Deputy Defence Minister Boris Jerinic, who is responsible for resource management, said the purchase of Russian helicopters for the country’s armed forces has not been ruled out.

Sarajevo could opt for a new generation of the Mil Mi helos, according to Jerinic.

Meanwhile, plans to modernize the country’s military capacities have been criticized by Milorad Dodik, the president of the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska, which is one of the country’s two federal entities, alongside the Muslim- and Croat-dominated Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Dodik told Serbian daily Blic that the country’s government should officially identify demilitarization and military neutrality as its strategic objectives.

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