Soon after last Saturday's Maoist attack on a Congress party convoy that left 27 people dead and 32 injured, the Indian Air Force has announced that it would add six helicopters to its wing that provides logistics support to anti-Naxalite operations in Chhattisgarh.
Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne said in Delhi on Wednesday that the IAF would raise a new helicopter unit comprising Russian Mi-17V5 copters at Nagpur in Maharashtra for ferrying troops, equipment and casualties.
''We are going to raise a unit of our latest MI-17V5 in Nagpur by next month, which will provide full support to anti-Maoist operations in Jagdalpur,'' he said.
The air chief noted that the decision to have a new unit in Nagpur was taken long before the recent attack in Chhattisgarh.
Currently, the IAF operates six Mi-17IV helicopters from its Gorakhpur unit, which aid anti-Naxal operations in Bihar, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh.
Browne said there was a need to deploy new systems which would provide better surveillance capabilities to the security forces in the Maoist-hit areas.
Browne also said the IAF would next month get three C-17 Globemaster heavy-lift planes from Boeing.
These aircraft would be based at the Hindon air base in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh.
He said contract negotiations are on with respect to five key procurement deals such as those for 126 Rafale aircraft, 22 Apache helicopters, 15 Chinook heavy-lift copters, Lockheed Martin's six C-130J strategic-lift planes and six Airbus MRTT mid-air refueler planes.
All these contracts would be worth Rs1.2 lakh crore.