India to get its choppers back from UN by June
Despite the United Nation’s reservations, New Delhi hopes the Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters on duty with the world body’s peace-keeping missions will be at the disposal of the ministry of home affairs this June.
India wants to reinduct these assets into anti-Naxal operations.
UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UNDPK) had expressed reservations about the IAF pullout from the missions in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan.
But Delhi has maintained “attending the national duties” are a priority. “The UN has had reservations about the withdrawal of IAF assets from Congo and Sudan. But in subsequent exchanges we addressed their concerns, explaining our national duties...” said a government official.
With the helicopters coming back in batches, Delhi feels by June they all will be at the home ministry’s disposal.
“What we believe is that these helicopters will be at the disposal of Ministry of Home Affairs by June,” home secretary GK Pillai said.
The helicopters that are being called back have to undergo overhauling, including the changing the UN colours. The IAF has 11 Mi-17s and eight Mi-35s in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Sudan, the IAF has deployed six M-17s.
It has 11 Mi-17s and four Mi-35 (“Firebirds”) in Goma, five Mi-17s and four Mi-25s in the . In South Central Sudan, the IAF has deployed six M-17s. The UNDPK operations has had reservations of a pullout without the replacements.
“Our plans of course looked imminent. Though initially, the IAF estimated the pullout can be completed within three months, it will take a year or more as we are looking at the June deadline,” explained a government official.
The government is also finalising on plans to get military-specification helicopters on wet lease.