IAF to purchase 80 new helicopters from Russia
The IAF, which currently has 50 Mi-17s, began feeling the need for additional helicopters after a series of natural disasters.india Updated: Apr 19, 2006 19:26 IST
The Indian Air Force, in a deal with Russia, is planning to purchase 80 more Mi-17 multi-utility helicopters to augment its capability for humanitarian operations.
Though aerospace major Sikorsky had also made a similar offer, the IAF has decided to go ahead with the Russian one.
The ministry feels that purchasing the Russian Mi-17, which is already in service with the IAF and the paramilitary Border Security Force, would be a better option, a top defence official said on Wednesday.
However, the official added that it would take a while for the helicopters to arrive.
"The negotiations are on, but when the machines will come is anybody's guess," said the official on condition of anonymity.
"This will be a follow-on order to the Mi-17s we have purchased in the past," he said.
He, however, declined to put a price to the deal, saying the negotiations hinged on this issue.
The IAF, which currently has 50 Mi-17s, began feeling the need for additional helicopters after a series of natural disasters beginning with the December 26, 2004 tsunami, the heavy snowfall in Jammu and Kashmir and the October 2005 earthquake in the same state, as also devastating floods in various parts of the country last year.
"The Mi-17 proved to be a reliable workhorse through all these disasters. But this also put tremendous pressure on us because it cut into our operational requirements. That is when we realised the need for 80 additional helicopters," the official pointed out.
The Mi-17s were inducted from the mid-1980s onwards. They are deployed for a variety of tasks like ferrying troops, airdropping supplies, evacuating casualties, search and rescue, and ferrying VIPs.