Following the order for 80 Mi-17 V5 helicopters that is in the process of induction into the Indian Air Force (IAF), the government plans to procure 71 more of the type from Russia, including a certain number for the Border Security Force and central police forces. The new generation Mi-17s, with more powerful engines and firepower, could be the workhorse of the IAF’s medium lift capability, with additional numbers intended to replace ageing Mi-8 and older generation Mi-17 airframes currently in service.
The Mi-17 V5s, ordered in 2008, are fully night operations capable and are fitted with advanced sensors and navigation systems for operations across the board. The IAF plans to use the new aircraft for disaster relief, logistics and air maintenance operations at high altitude, offensive operations and for surveillance. While the procurement of medium lift helicopters continues, uncertainty prevails over the Indian multi-role helicopter (IMRH) programme, being pioneered by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The company is still understood to be scouting for a technology partner for the programme, which envisages a platform with an all-up weight of 13 tonnes, a maximum speed of 275 kmph and a service ceiling of 22,000 ft. The armed forces have stipulated that they want the IMRH to have a 3,500-kg payload capacity and range of 500-km at sea level.