India’s Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) has approved the procurement of 48 units of Russian Mi-17 V5 military choppers for $1.1 billion. Russia’s defense exporter Rosoboronexport had said in July that it was ready to supply more military helicopters to India. According to Russian news agency TASS, the advanced choppers will be deployed in difficult terrain areas on India’s northern borders.
India has over 300 Mi-17 V5 choppers
Russia has already supplied 121 Mi-17 V5 choppers to India in the last five years. In total, the Indian Air Force has more than 300 units of Mi-17 multi-purpose helicopters. The Version 5 of the chopper was made specifically to meet Indian requirements. India’s DAC also gave a “go ahead” to buy 36 French Rafale fighters in fly-away condition.
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The approval to buy more Mi-17 V5 helicopters came less than a week after Russia’s Rostec formed a joint venture with India’s Reliance Defense Systems to manufacture 197 units of Kamov K-26 choppers in India. The Russian company said it wanted the production to begin “as soon as possible.” Even though the two countries have collaborated on several defense projects, there have been some serious issues.
Russia, India yet to sort ut FGFA issue
For Instance, Russia’s Sukhoi and India’s Hindustan Aeronautics were developing a fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) for the Indian Air Force. The fighter jet was supposed to be based on Sukhoi’s T-50 PAK FA. However, sustained delays by Russia have questioned the viability of the project, estimated to be worth $30 billion. Russia had sought to start deliveries eight years after the final contract, while India was insisting on a three-year delivery timeframe.
It has forced the Indian Air Force to halve its orders for the fifth-generation fighter from 127 to 65 units. According to The Tribune, the IAF has proposed to buy 65 Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA. New Delhi has told Moscow that the PAK-FA can be supplied to the IAF while research on the FGFA, which is a modified version of PAK FA to meet the IAF’s requirements, can carry on simultaneously.