IAF ramps up chopper fleet with new induction (Lead)February 17th, 2012 - 4:41 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) The Indian Air Force Friday inducted the most-modern Mi-17V5 helicopter, its latest buy from Russia, to ramp up the ferrying of troops and supplies to remote and mountainous areas.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony formally handed over the keys of the choppers to the 155 Helicopter Unit, commanded by Wing Commander A.K. Verma, that will operate them from Bhatinda. The IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne, was present on the occasion.
The helicopters, 80 of which were bought in 2008 for $1.34 billion, started arriving in September 2011 and were undergoing pre-induction checks.
Two more squadrons of will also operate the helicopters from Srinagar and Bagdogra (West Bengal).
These are meant to strengthen the helicopter fleet, as they can operate in all-weather, all-terrain conditions.
“The induction will enhance the capabilities of the IAF manifold in undertaking varied roles to face the challenges thrown by unforgiving weather, hostile environment and difficult terrain,” an IAF statement said.
The Mi-17V5 falls in the category of an armed helicopter, with substantial and effective firepower. It is an upgraded version of the Mi-17 medium-lift category that the IAF operates.
The Mi-17s carry troops and supplies to remote helipads close to border posts. The Soviet era IL-76 and AN-32 transports fly only to airfields.
Russia has till date delivered 21 of the 80 helicopters in the current order. Another six will join the fleet by March-end. Once all the 80 helicopters are delivered by 2014, India may order another 59 of these choppers at a cost of $1 billion.
Even as the defence ministry inducts these advanced military transport helicopters, the home ministry too has decided to buy six of them for logistical support in Maoist-affected districts.
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Tags: air chief marshal, airfields, anil kumar, bagdogra, border posts, defence minister, defence ministry, helicopter fleet, helicopter unit, home ministry, hostile environment, indian air force, logistical support, maoist, military transport helicopters, mountainous areas, srinagar, terrain conditions, west bengal, wing commander