New Delhi, Feb 17: India today formally inducted its latest Mi-17 V5 armed helicopters from Russia to enhance its operational capabilities including carrying troops and cargo to high altitude areas.
Marking the formal commissioning of the choppers in the Indian Air Force (IAF), Defence Minister A K Antony symbolically handed over its keys to the Commanding Officer of one of the units operating the machines.
“The new Mi-17 helicopters will help in adding muscle to IAF's capabilities to carry out operations assigned to it”, the Defence Minister said while addressing the gathering of senior IAF officials.
India has placed orders for 80 such choppers from Russia and the first batch was inducted in the last week of September last year.The first three units of the helicopters will be raised at Bhatinda (Punjab), Srinagar (J-K) and Bagdogra (West Bengal).
Over 20 such flying machines have already arrived and are deployed at various locations in the northern sector, Air Force officials said.
The MI-17 V5 falls in armed helicopter category, with substantial and effective firepower. It has the latest and more powerful engines that will enhance its payload carrying capability at higher altitudes.
“The Mi-17 V5 is an upgrade of Mi-17 choppers in the medium-lift category and is equipped with state-of-the-art avionics and on board navigation nystems,” IAF officials said. On the machine's capabilities, they said, “It has on-board weather radar, state-of-the-art autopilot and is compatible with the latest generation night vision goggles.”
The Mi-17 variants have operated in various types of terrain, including Siachen Glacier, and have also proven their mettle in UN missions.