BANGALORE, India, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- India is looking to buy 71 more Russian-made Mi-17 V5 helicopters on top of the 80 on order from the manufacturer Kazan Helicopters.
Indian Defense Minister A. K. Antony formally inducted the first batch of Mi-17 V5 medium-lift choppers into the air force last week, the Press Trust of India reported.
India signed the contract with Kazan in 2008 to supplement its existing fleet of around 150 Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters used for cargo and for VIP transport, the PTI report said.
Of the 71 helicopters in the new order, 59 would be for the air force to replace Mi-8 and Mi-17 V aircraft and six would be for border security forces. The remaining six would be sent to police forces around the country, an unnamed air force official told PTI.
Around 60 percent of the Indian air force's 800 helicopters are Russian-made, inducted between 1971 and 2003, a Defense News report said.
The majority of India's military helicopters, nearly 78 percent, are light or medium lift and include the Cheetah, Chetak and Mi series, which are slated for replacement, Defense News said.
Kazan Helicopters, with headquarters in Kazan, capital city the Russian Federation's Republic of Tatarstan, began exporting helicopters in 1956, the company Web site says. More than 3,800 of all variants and series have been delivered to overseas customers and more.
Kazan has made more than 11,000 of the Mi-8 and Mi-17 variants, the company says.
The Mi-17 V aircraft have two Isotov Klimov TV3-117 VM turboshaft engines that offer a cruising speed of around 140 mph and a maximum speed of almost 190 mph.
Maximum internal load is 8,820 pounds and the maximum external load on a sling is 9,920 pounds. In passenger configuration, the Mi-17 carries up to 36 people.
Kazan also makes the larger variants, the Mi-26 with a payload capacity of 20 tons, and the offensive gunship and anti-tank variants, Mi-25 and Mi-35.
As part of the military's replacement program, the Indian army has on order the attack version of the indigenously built advanced light helicopter Rudra, a heavily armed version of the utility helicopter Dhruv, built by Hindustan Aeronautics in Bangalore.
The Dhruv entered service in 2002 and around 160 are believed to have been ordered by the army and navy, a PTI report in September said.
The Dhruv project was announced in 1984 when Hindustan Aeronautics began designing the aircraft with assistance from the German aerospace company Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm.
The Dhruv helicopter carries up to 12 passenger and two pilots sitting side by side, with a maximum takeoff weight of 12,125 pounds. Maximum speed of 180 mph is from two Shakti turboshaft engines or two Turbomeca TM 333-2B2 turboshaft engines. Service ceiling is around 27,500 feet.