New IAF chopper unit to help fight Maoists

New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) The Indian Air Force (IAF) will deploy a squadron of its latest Mi-17 V-5 helicopters in Nagpur for assistance of security forces fighting Maoists in Chhattisgarh, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne said here Wednesday.

The squadron, which would be in place by next month, will help reduce time in providing air support during day and night for evacuation and other needs.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) function here, Browne said the squadron will be “an add-on fully operational day-and-night unit”.

Browne said technology should be used as an aid in tackling Maoist violence.

Air force officials said there was already a helicopter unit in Gorakhpur with detachments in Ranchi, Raipur and Jagdalpur and its task was “spread out”.

They said the new unit will be able to meet future requirements more effectively.

Officials, however, said the decision on a new helicopter squadron was not linked to the recent brutal attack by Maoists on a Congress convoy in Chhattisgarh.

They said the decision about setting up a new helicopter squadron in Nagpur had been taken earlier.

The officials said there would be no change in rules of engagement and standard operating procedure will be followed which prescribes firing in self-defence only.

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