New Delhi: The much-awaited delivery of two advanced military helicopters to India for use in air support role in anti-Naxal operations has been delayed with BSF taking up the issue with Russian officials.
The Mi-17-V5 helicopters were scheduled to be handed over to the Border Security Force's air wing by the end of September but sources said the delivery has got delayed by few months now.
Sensing the urgency to get these 'flying machines' in the force's fleet, the paramilitary force has now contacted the manufacturers after which a team of Russian officials have landed in Delhi to smoothen the process of handing over the two choppers, part of an eight helicopter deal for the paramilitary force.
The new choppers were being procured to add muscle to the existing fleet of 11 helicopters which are currently being used to ferry troops and material and conduct casualty evacuation sorties in Naxal violence-affected states. Both the Indian Air Force and BSF choppers are part of this fleet.
"The delivery of the Mi-17-V5 choppers is running behind schedule but it is expected that the helicopters would be handed over to BSF sooner than later. A Russian team has just landed in Delhi to take forward the processes and meet Home Ministry and BSF authorities in this regard," a source privy to the development said.
The BSF, which operates the air wing for the Union Home Ministry and all forces under its command, has made elaborate plans to base these helicopters in anti-Naxal operations grid and bases have already been prepared in this regard in Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand capital Ranchi.
'V5' is an advanced version of the existing Mi-17s and equipped with sophisticated avionics and on-board navigation systems, making it more suitable for both day and night operations which is a regular requirement in Left-wing extremism hit states.
These latest helicopters have an on-board weather radar along with state-of-the-art autopilot functions and latest night vision devices, which are not available in the Mi-17s.