Our Bureau
08:59 AM, June 28, 2013

The Indian Air Force has appealed to the Defense Ministry to hasten the light utility helicopters procurement, right after a newly acquired Mi-17 crashed last week during a rescue operation in the flood torn region of the Himalayas.

The IAF has been trying to replace its aging Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, which are mostly used for logistics in the upper reaches of northern India.

In 2009, India issued a $900 million LUH tender in which Kamov and Eurocopter are the final two competing. The fate of the competitions remains undecided by MOD, which has so far given no reasons for the delay despite completing field trials.

A total of 384 helicopters are being procured for both the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army. Of these the current tender is for the purchase of 197 helicopters off the shelf while the remaining 187 would be manufactured in India, by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) under joint partnership.

The helicopters will carry out multiple mission roles including reconnaissance and surveillance, direction of artillery fire, carrying small bodies of troops, nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) monitoring, casualty evacuation, and airborne forward air control missions.