India has approved an agreement worth about 70 billion rupees ($1.1 billion) to purchase helicopters from Russia. The Indian Defense Acquisition Council said Wednesday it would add 48 Mi-17-V5 helicopters to its military's fleet, Russia's official news agency Tass reported. News of the deal was first reported by the Economic Times in Mumbai, Tass said.
The helicopters will be deployed to patrol India's borders. "The advanced Russian-made helicopters will be used in difficult-terrain areas ranging from deserts to mountains along the Pakistani and Chinese borders," Tass reported, citing the headquarters of the Indian Air Force. "Mi-17-V5 helicopters make up the backbone of the transport helicopter fleet of the IAF."
Alexander Mikheyev, general manager of Russian Helicopters, had told the Russian news service Interfax at the Aero India 2015 show in February that Indian officials were considering the purchase of more Mi-17 helicopters. Russia has already delivered 121 Mi-17-V5 models to India in the past five years, the outlet reported Wednesday.
Overall, India's air fleet encompasses more than 300 Mi-17 helicopters. The Mi-17 is a multipurpose aircraft known for its versatility. It has become one of the most popular Russian-made helicopters. The V5 version of the aircraft, made specifically to Indian standards, represents one of the numerous ways India and Russia have cooperated in military-equipment endeavors in recent years.
India and Russia could soon cooperate on building more military equipment, according to media reports last month. The two countries talked about co-producing aircraft, including helicopters, as well as ships and tanks, the Indian Defense Ministry said. Along this line, the nations have worked toward developing a new fighter jet, according to Russia's official Sputnik News.
India and Russia already have a deal in place centered on BrahMos cruise missiles. India has placed orders for the purchase of missiles worth more than $6 billion, as reported by Tass.