MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The Indian Air Force (IAF) proposed to acquire 48 additional military transport helicopters from Russia for $1.1 billion, local media reported Monday.
The Economic Times cited sources as saying the plan to acquire Russia’s export-designated Mil Mi-17V-5 (NATO reporting name “Hip”) was due to replace the air force’s older fleet of Mi-8 transporters.
Earlier this month, the deputy head of Russian Helicopters design and manufacturing company said it was prepared to deliver up to 250 of the light utility helicopters a year.
India is Russia’s biggest customer in weapons and equipment purchases, including helicopters.
Some 121 of Russia’s Mi-17V-5 have been supplied to India in the past five years, with a total of 300 Mi-8 and Mi-17 currently in service with the IAF.
The Mi-17V-5 is the newest in Russia’s Mi-8/17 helicopter family. Designed for personnel transportation, the vehicle can be equipped with weapons used in search and rescue operations.
During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India in December 2014, the countries agreed in principle to assemble 400 Mi-17 and Kamov-226T transport helicopters annually in India.