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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is arming its fleet of older Mi-17 helicopters with homegrown armour in New Delhi to withstand fire from snipers and small arms during close-quarters operations, such as in Naxal-infested areas.

The latest Mi-17 variants, the V5s, have Russian clip-on, clip-off armour, according to sources in the defence and security establishment, According to the sources, all brand-new Mi-17 V5 helicopters used to combat Naxal operations already have armour protection in the form of additional plates installed on the aircraft.According to sources, locally produced Russian armour is made of composite, which makes it 40% lighter than steel-made Russian armour.

but the earlier variants do not. They added that the new armour being purchased from the government-run Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited (MIDHANI) is significantly more lightweight and robust than the Russian optionA helicopter that is lighter in weight can carry more personnel during operations and fly higher and faster than one that is heavier and equipped with Russian armour.

.According to sources, the armour made by Midhani is also clip on and clip off, meaning it can be put on and taken off based on operational requirements.

This also implies that it will be more difficult to fire small arms at these lightweight choppers.

HAL Prepares To Replace Mi-17S With New Helicopters

Approximately 250 Mi-17 helicopters, which can accommodate up to 24 passengers or 36 soldiers wearing full combat gear, are currently in use by the IAF. The Mi-8 series of helicopters, which entered India in 1971 and were decommissioned in 2017, served as its ancestor.

The earlier iterations of these helicopters were supposed to be phased out starting in 2028. The most recent models, the Mi-17 V5 (introduced in 2011), were supposed to be the last to be phased out.

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