"The last four of the Russian-origin Mi-35
attack helicopters -- used for close air support
during assault operations on ground targets --
that were operating in Congo in aid of UN blue
berets have returned to India and will soon join
their duties in support of the army troops,"
a defence ministry official told IANS.
Indian Air Force (IAF) had deployed eight Mi-35
and Mi-25 attack helicopters and another nine
Mi-17 medium lift cargo helicopters in the UN
peace enforcement mission in Congo or Monusco.
The Mi-25s and Mi-17s were withdrawn earlier this
year in a phased manner.
The cargo choppers have already been redeployed
in India in traditional logistic duties in support
of army troops in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeastern
states, and in domestic security roles in aid
of state police and central paramilitary forces
fighting the Maoists.
IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar
Browne had said recently that the air force will
deploy two Mi-17s in Jharkhand's capital Ranchi
in aid of paramilitary forces fighting the Maoists.
This deployment will be in addition to four of
these choppers already operating in similar roles
for the last couple of years in Chhattisgarh's
capital Raipur and Jagdalpur.
India had in June this year turned down a UN
request to continue its rotary wing gunships deployment
in the troubled west African nation in view of
the presidential elections slated for November.
The Indian decision had come as a surprise to
the UN, as it had never rejected a request from
the global body earlier.
The IAF attack and cargo helicopters were the
lifeline of UN peace-enforcers in Congo, but the
fleet had to be withdrawn, also due to the huge
cost of logistics in maintaining the assets in
the African nation.
The IAF had informed the defence ministry that
it was forced to cannibalise parts out of other
helicopters to maintain its old Mi-35 and Mi-25
attack choppers in Congo in fighting-fit condition.