The Indian Air Force has moved a proposal to spend $1.1b (Rs 6,980 cr) to acquire more medium lift choppers from Russia in a move that would go against the grain of the ‘Make in India’ concept but offer a vital addition to its transport fleet.
The hardy Mi 17 V5, it seems, will continue to rule the Indian skies as 48 of the choppers are likely to be procured under a repeat order. The new choppers, which will serve in terrains ranging from the desert to high-altitude locations along the China and Pakistan border, will be added to the IAFfleet of 139 Mi 17 V5s that form the backbone of the IAF transport operations.
Sources said the Air Force recently moved the plan that includes maintenance facilities for the choppers as well as an offset obligation of 30%. The operationally proven choppers are much-needed replacements for the older Mi 8 transporters that have reached the end of their service life.
At least six of the new choppers being ordered are replacements for machines that were diverted to the Air HQ Communications Squadron last year for flying the President, Prime Minister and visiting dignitaries.