The IAF reportedly operates over 220 Mi-17 series helicopters extensively used for tactical missions. The IAF’s older generation Mi-17 medium lift helicopters are in for a major upgrade, with plans being firmed up on retrofitting them with advanced avionics and electronic warfare suits

Under the project, 86 helicopters will be modified, which includes 54 Mi-17 and 32 Mi-17 1V variants. The works will be outsourced to the industry and undertaken at the IAF establishments in Chandigarh, Guwahati and Yehalanka.

“The upgrade is aimed to facilitate Mi-17 and Mi-17 1V helicopters with state-of-the-art and advanced electronic warfare and surveillance equipment. The modification work comprises fitment of 14 systems on Mi-17 and MI-17 1V each. Further, there are about 41 mechanical and 67 electrical installations for MI-17 and 46 mechanical and 73 electrical installations for MI-17 1V,” a request for proposal issued by the IAF on July 9 states.

The IAF reportedly operates over 220 Mi-17 series helicopters that form the backbone of its vertical lift component which are extensively used for tactical missions such as troops transport, assault, special operations, ferrying and air dropping supplies in high altitude areas, search and rescue and disaster management.

These began entering service in 1991 and gradually replaced the earlier Mi-8. In 2001, 40 of the more powerful 1V variants were procured. In 2012, the IAF began inducting the advanced V5 version after assembling them at Chandigarh, of which over a 100 are reported to be in service.

The move to upgrade the older versions comes in the backdrop of a recent initiative by the IAF to involve the industry in the overhaul of the Mi-17 V5 in view of its limited in-house capability.

The modifications listed out for the Mi-17 involves removal of some existing avionics, electronic systems and navigation aids and replacing them with smart multi-function displays, weather radar, traffic collision and avoidance system and air data systems.

The new electronic warfare suite to be installed on both types includes a radar warning receiver, missile approach warning system and a flare and chaff dispensing system as well as an identify friend and foe system.

The existing GPS will be replaced by GPS-GLONASS, a Russian navigation system, along with a tactical air navigation system, instrument landing system and omni-directional radio navigation aid.

The modification project is expected to be complete in about four years, with 24 helicopters being upgraded in a year. The IAF has earlier carried out various modifications on the Mi-17 to meet specific operational requirements.

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