In order to fill the gap in the IAF’s current internal capacity, the Indian Air Force is outsourcing the repair and restoration of its Russian-made Mi-17V5 helicopters, which serve as the foundation of its medium-lift rotary component.
The No. 3 Base Repair Deport (BRD), the largest helicopter maintenance facility for helicopters of Soviet or Russian origin, including older versions of the Mi-17 and the Mi-25/35 gunships, is currently where Mi-17 aircraft are overhauled.
“The IAF has a large fleet of Mi-17 helicopters comprising three variants, but the existing capacity of 3 BRD is limited and a significant number of the latest variant, the V5, have to be sent overseas for major overhaul,” an IAF officer said.
“Consequently, we are working towards roping in the private aviation industry in the country, having the requisite technical expertise and infrastructure to take up the project in collaboration with the IAF and Kazan Helicopters, the Russian firm manufacturing these helicopters,” he added. The entire overhaul process as mandated, after receiving the helicopter from the IAF to post-overhaul flight test till final acceptance by the IAF, will be the responsibility of the private firm.
A total of 220 Mi-17 helicopters, which first entered service in 1991, are reportedly in use with the IAF. These have gradually taken the role of the older Mi-8 and are widely utilised for tactical tasks such troop transport, assault, ferrying supplies and dropping them off in far-off places, special operations, search and rescue, and disaster management.
Since 1991, the Mi-17 series, their engines, and aggregates have been the focus of 3 BRD, a company that was founded in 1962. After they were introduced in 2012, The Depot also assembled and tested the V5 version in flight. At the depot, a new manufacturing line for upgrading the Mi-17V5 went into operation in 2019.
The depot has improved and modified helicopters to better fulfil a variety of operating needs, in addition to locally manufacturing numerous aero-spare parts to reduce reliance on imports. The depot has carried out a number of similar projects in recent years, including converting five M-17V5s for VVIP transportation to carry the president, vice president, and prime minister.
IAF operates 150 of the most modern V5 type helicopters, which are among the most technologically advanced in the world and feature a sophisticated navigation and electronic warfare suite, according to Air Force officers. They have the same external rocket pods, missiles, and machine gun compatibility as the preceding models.
“Involving the private industry in the overhaul of these machines builds up national capability and promotes self reliance that can have long term benefits for the military as well as civilian aviation sector,” an IAF officer said.