A more powerful and versatile variant of the Mi-17 military chopper is slated to arrive from Russia in 2-3 weeks to beef up the Indian Air Force fleet. It will be based in Punjab.
Sources confirmed that the first lot of the latest Mi-17-V5 is to arrive in the next couple of weeks and will be stationed at a major airbase in the southern part of Punjab. The location has been chosen with care to cater to surrounding areas.
Originally, the first lot of Mi-17-V5 was expected arrive in March. These are part of the 80 choppers India ordered from Russia in 2008 by signing a contract with Rosoboronexport, the state arms exporter. According to the Indian Ministry of Defence, the deal is worth $1.35 billion (Rs 6,000 crore).
The IAF aims to utilise the Mi-17-V5 helicopters for special heli-borne operations, air-maintenance, transportation of troops and equipment, search and rescue, casualty evacuation and in armed helicopter roles.
For long, Mi-17 chopper variants have been used by para-commandos of the Army and also the Special Operations Group of the NSG. The latest variant will be able to drop 25 troops in one go and from multiple on-board exit points.