Pinaki Bhattacharya
01:40 PM, September 8, 2015
India to Have 16 Strong Mi-17 V5 Helicopter Fleet for VVIP Duty
Indian Air Force Mi-17 V5 helicopter

India is likely to commit 10 Mi-17 V5 helicopters for VVIP duty from its recent decision to order 48 more choppers from Russia.

The 10 choppers will be configured for VVIP flights with changes to the interiors, communication and defensive systems.

Informed sources told correspondent that the earmarking of 10 new machines for VVIP configuration will add to the six already committed for ferrying VVIPs from the earlier batch of 148 Mi-17 V5 helicopters ordered in 2012.

The procurement of a fresh batch of 48 machines for INR 7000 crore (US$ 1.1 billion) was cleared by India’s Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) last week and is expected to be followed by a commercial contract in which delivery schedules will be agreed upon. Russian Helicopters is expected to complete deliveries under the previous contract by this year-end which means deliveries under the new order will only start from 2016 at the earliest.

With the VVIP fleet boosted by 10 more choppers, this will expand the total to 16 Mi-17 V5 helicopters committed for VVIP duty. India had earlier sought 12 helicopters from AgustaWestand in VVIP configuration which could not be delivered due to the bribery scandal and the subsequent cancellation of the deal.

The decision to go fully with the Mi-17 V5 helicopters for VVIP duty means that there is little or no possibility of reviving the AgustaWestland deal, sources said.

At a unit price of INR 145 crore (US$ 22.5 million), the Mi-17 V5 helicopters will come at approximately half of what  India would have paid for 12 AgustaWestland 118 model choppers priced at INR 300 crore each.

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