Augmenting its chopper fleet, the Indian Air Force will induct the first batch of Russian-origin Mi-17 V5 helicopters by mid-October.
India [ Images ] had in 2008 signed a deal with Russia [ Images ] to induct 80 Mi-17 V5 helicopters for strengthening its chopper fleet for humanitarian and disaster relief missions and transport operations.
"We are going to induct the first batch of Mi-17 V5s from Russia by the second week of the month, and by March next year we will have 26 of them," an IAF official told PTI in New Delhi [ Images ].
They said one of the first few helicopters would be sent to the northeast sector and will be deployed at the Bagdogra air base under the 156 helicopter Unit.
The compliment of all 80 helicopters is likely to be inducted by late 2013 or early 2014, IAF sources said.
The IAF is also looking to induct another 59 such choppers to replace the older Mi-17 variants and the Mi-8 choppers.
The IAF chopper fleet has also been augmented by the induction of around 19 Mi-17 IVs which were operating in the UN missions in Congo and Sudan.
"These missions have been closed and the choppers flown back from there have been provided to units located in central and eastern parts of the country," they said.
The Mi-35 attack helicopters, which were also part of the UN operations, have been deployed in the desert sector and an attack helicopter squadron has been revived at the Suratgarh air base.
The IAF has plans of procuring over 230 helicopters including heavy, medium and light utility and attack choppers.
It has also placed orders for procuring 12 VVIP helicopters for ferrying the President, Prime Minister and other important dignitaries in the country.