The Indian air force (IAF) soon will have determined the winner of its heavy-lift helicopter competition, based on lifecycle costs, and the winner should be decided within a few months, according to a senior defense ministry official.

The contenders are Boeing’s CH-47F Chinook and Russia’s Mi-26. The IAF already operates four Mi-26s

Meanwhile, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne on Oct. 5 said 75% of the IAF’s modernization program will be complete by 2022.

The much-awaited acquisition of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) “is on track and [should] be finalized by March 31, 2013,” he says (Aerospace DAILY, Oct. 5). The IAF also is planning to induct additional C-130J transport aircraft.

“These C-130J aircraft will be based at Panagarh in Eastern Air Command, close to Kalaikunda and Kolkata. They will be utilized for the entire northeastern region and cover Car Nicobar Island,” Browne says.

The IAF also plans to buy Mi-17 V5 helicopters. Four have already been made operational and two more should join the force in December.

“A contract for 59 additional helicopters [should] also be signed in the next few months,” the defense ministry official says.

The IAF also is expecting four more squadrons of Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighters in the near future, he says. The service will acquire 270 Su-30s for 13-14 squadrons to be eventually raised.

Referring to India’s Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA), Browne says the Mk.2 version is still 4-5 years away. “The air force has looked at 40 of the LCA Mk.1 variant on the condition that Mk.2 will have a more powerful engine. A contract has been signed between [the] state-run Defense Research and Development Organization and GE for this.”

Chinook photo: Boeing