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India scraps Russian helicopter plans – media

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has canceled a plan to purchase 48 Mi-17V5 military transport helicopters, local media reported Saturday, citing government sources. Instead, the military, and other agencies that had planned to use the aircraft, decided to procure unspecified medium-lift choppers domestically.

The decision to scrap the procurement plans is not related to the conflict between Russian and Ukraine, the sources said. The move was made before the conflict broke out and is aimed to bolster the ‘Make in India’ initiative, a government program designed to boost local high-tech production and to lower the country’s dependence on imports.

READ MORE: India defies Western pressure to stop Russia trade

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“The tender for 48 Mi-17V5 helicopters has been withdrawn in view of the push for indigenization. The IAF would now be supporting an indigenous program for helicopters,” a government source told the India Today magazine.

It was not immediately clear whether the potential procurement had materialized into any sort of deal or memorandum of understanding with Russia, or whether it remained only a plan harbored by the Indian government.

India is a major importer of Russian-made arms and maintains a large fleet of Mi-17 helicopters of various configurations. Apart from being the workhorse of the IAF medium-lift transport aviation, this type of helicopter is used by other Indian government agencies, including for flying top officials around the country.

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