India's Defense Ministry has approved use of Russian Mi-17-V5 helicopters to transport persons of special importance, including the president and prime minister, according to Itar-Tass.
According to repoorts, the defence ministry has approved the "conversion" of six new Mi-17 V5s into VVIP helicopters to replace the old Mi-8 helicopters with IAF's elite Communication Squadron to ferry the President and PM within the country.
The implementation of the program will take half a year.
The news comes after India cancelled a contract with AgustaWestland for 12 VVIP helicopteers in January after the company was accused of bribing local officials to secure the contract.
The Mi-17V-5 helicopter was chosen by India’s Special Protection Group (of the 150 helicopters already delivered to India) for escorting the most important politicians in India during the elections earlier this year.
In 2012-13, India ordered a further 71 helicopters, which are currently being built by Russian Helicopters to the agreed schedule.
The Mi-17 is a medium weight, single rotor helicopter. The construction primarily incorporates the airframe of a Mi-8 with the power train of the Mi-24, which provides an increase in performance and gross weight over the basic Mi-8. The aircraft is configured with a five bladed main rotor system (70 ft diameter), and a wheeled landing gear.
It is a multirole helicopter used as a supply craft or be very heavily armed with an extensive array or rockets, misslies and guns.