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Indian armed forces set to induct around 1000 helicopters by 2020

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In the backdrop is shown a file photo of M-17 helicopter flown by the 107 Indian Air Force Helicopter Unit during Exercise Yudh Abhyas 09.

NEW DELHI (PTI): In a massive multi billion dollar acquisition programme, the Indian Armed Forces plan to induct more than 1,000 indigenous and foreign helicopters for attack, transport and utility operations by the end of this decade.

The choppers to be inducted into the Army, Navy and Air Force include around 450 light utility, 12 VVIP, over 200 attack, 139 Mi-17 transport and 15 heavy-lift helicopters and over 50 multi-role helicopters for the Navy, Defence Ministry officials told PTI here.

Giving details of the various deals, they said the contract to replace and augment the existing Cheetah and Chetak fleets of the Armed Forces is expected to be finalised by the end of this year.

"The trials have been completed and after analysing the evaluation report, a vendor would be chosen to supply 197 LUHs to the Army and the Air Force," an official said.

Another 187 similar choppers would be produced indigenously by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and its design has already been completed, he said.

The Navy is also planning to procure more than 60 twin-engine choppers to replace its vintage Cheetah and Chetak helicopters and has already initiated the acquisition process for the purpose.

To strengthen its fleet of Russian Mi-35 and Mi-25 combat helicopters, the IAF is planning to acquire 22 attack helicopters for which Boeing's Apache 64-D and Russian Mi-28 are the contenders.

"Trials for the tender have been completed and the report has been submitted with the Air Headquarters and the deal would be signed in the near future," the official said.

The HAL is also developing the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), 200 which will be supplied to both the IAF and the Army to meet their demands.

By mid-2011, India will also start inducting 139 Mi-17 helicopters from Russia, which would be inducted in batches within two to three years.

The first 80 choppers would augment the present fleet and the remaining will take care of the ones to be phased out in the near future, the officials said.

They said the IAF is also in final stages of trials for procuring 15 heavy-lift helicopters to replace the fleet of Russian-origin Mi-26.

Russian Mi-26 and the Boeing twin-rotor Chinook 47D are in the race for the tender.

The trials to procure 16 Multirole Helicopters (MRF) for the Navy are also expected to begin in April-May this year and American Sikorsky-70B and European NH-90 are the contenders for supplying the choppers, they added.

After completing the initial orders, the Navy may go in for procuring another 48 similar helicopters.

The HAL will also supply over 160 indigenously-developed Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv for the IAF and the Army.

The IAF will also soon induct 12 V-VIP AW-101 choppers for which a contract was signed with the Anglo-Italian Agusta Westland last year.

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