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    India's Army set to double combat helicopters by 2020

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    The Indian Army intends to double its fleet of attack and other types of helicopters to 500 by 2020, a spokesman for the country's Ground Forces said on Monday.

    NEW DELHI, February 18 (RIA Novosti) - The Indian Army intends to double its fleet of attack and other types of helicopters to 500 by 2020, a spokesman for the country's Ground Forces said on Monday.

    An Indian Army colonel told a seminar at the international DEFEXPO India 2008 exhibition that the number of helicopters was set to increase to 500.

    The Defexpo India-2008 exhibition and conference opened in New Delhi on February 16 and will close on February 19.

    Around 250 helicopters are currently in service in the Indian Army, mainly obsolete domestically manufactured Cheetah attack helicopters and Chetak multipurpose helicopters, as well as Advanced Light helicopters.

    He said around $1 billion would be spent on replacing the Cheetahs and Chetaks with new models.

    The Ground Forces are currently preparing a tender for 197 light helicopters. The previous tender, estimated at $600 million, which was won by Eurocopter, was annulled last December over "deviations from specifications."

    According to some reports, the principal bidders in the new tender will be Eurocopter, the U.S.'s Bell, and Russia's Kamov.

    Russia has showcased an array of its new small arms and light weapons, and regards its participation in the exhibition as an important stage in advancing business cooperation with Moscow's foreign partners, primarily in the Asia Pacific region.

    The Defexpo India exhibition was launched in 1999, with 197 exhibitors, to promote defense exports from India and exhibit the capabilities of Indian defense R&D and production. It has now grown into one of the most recognized international defense exhibitions in the world.

    International seminars, especially the India Defense Industry Summit, held as part of the exhibition have evolved over time into the biannual International Defense Industry Forum.

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