NEW DELHI, February 17 (Itar-Tass) — The Indian Air Force adopted for service the first batch of Russia's Mi-17V-5 helicopters. The ceremony with the participation of Indian Defence Minister Arackaparambil Kurian Antony and AF Commander Norman Anil Kumar Browne was held on Friday at the Palam airbase located in a suburb of the Indian capital.
“The new Mi-17V-5 helicopters will promote building power by the Indian Air Force in conducting various operations,” the defence minister said. “More than 20 of these helicopters have already arrived and have been adopted for service by military units in the north of the country.” Then Antony handed the symbolic keys of the copters to the commander of a helicopter wing A.K. Verma.
“The adoption of the Mi-17V-5 helicopters for service in the Indian Air Force is a very important event for the Russian-Indian military-technical cooperation, which, I hope, will become stronger with time,” A. K. Verma said in an interview with Itar-Tass. “I have personally flown on these helicopters more than once. They are very reliable and powerful.”
The contract for the delivery of 80 Russian Mi-17V-5 helicopters worth 1.34 billion US dollars was signed in 2008. All the combat aircraft are to arrive here by 2014; a total of 21 helicopters have already been delivered, six more will be supplied by the end of March, the Indian defence minister said. In addition, according to local media reports, India is going in the near future to purchase 59 more helicopters. “59 more Mi-17 helicopters worth about 1 billion dollars will be ordered to continue the existing agreement,” The Times of India reported, citing a source in the country’s Air Force.
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, according to the newspaper.
The Mi-17V-5 is the latest modification of the Mi-17 helicopter. The aircraft is designed to transport cargo and paratroopers, as well as bulky cargoes on an external sling. The armed version of the Mi-17V-5 is designed to provide protective fire for ground troops, assault forces during landing or evacuation, for precision bombing. The aircraft is equipped with an onboard defence complex for the protection against the enemy’s antiaircraft missile system.