The Indian Air Force said it would add six helicopters to its wing that provides logistics support to anti-Naxal operations in Chhattisgarh, even as Defence Minister ruled out deploying central armed forces to tackle the left-wing ultras.
For this purpose, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne said on Wednesday, the force would raise a new helicopter unit comprising Russian-origin Mi-17V5 choppers at Nagpur for ferrying troops, equipment and casualties.
“We are going to raise a unit of our latest MI-17V5 in Nagpur by next month which will provide full support to anti-Maoist operations in Jagdalpur,” he said.
However, the IAF chief noted that the decision to have a new unit in Nagpur was taken long before the recent attack in Chhattisgarh that left 27 persons of a Congress convoy dead.
Currently, the IAF operates six Mi-17IV helicopters from its Gorakhpur unit, which aid anti-Naxal operations in Ranchi, Jharkhand and Raipur and Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh.
Browne said there was a need to deploy new systems which would provide better surveillance capabilities to the security forces in the Maoist-hit areas.
Browne also said the IAF would next month get three C-17 Globemaster heavy-lift planes from Boeing. These aircraft would be based at the Hindon air base in Ghaziabad, Uttarpradesh.
He said contract negotiations are on with respect to five key procurement deals such as those for 126 Rafale aircraft, 22 Apache helicopters, 15 Chinook heavy-lift copters, Lockheed Martin’s six C-130J strategic-lift planes and six Airbus MRTT midair refueler planes. All these contracts would be worth `1.2 lakh crore.