The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to upgrade its fleet of older Mi-17 helicopters. The medium lift helicopters will be upgraded with new avionics and Electronic Warfare (EW) suites. The Tribune reported that 86 helicopters will be modified, which consists of 54 Mi-17 and 32 Mi-17 1V variants, at a rate of about 24 helicopters per year. The report also quoted an IAF request for proposal:
“The upgrade is aimed to facilitate Mi-17 and Mi-17 1V helicopters with state-of-the-art and advanced electronic warfare and surveillance equipment. The modification work comprises fitment of 14 systems on Mi-17 and MI-17 1V each.”
The new EW suite is likely to be the Amulet Airborne Defense Suite (ADS) by Defense Initiatives of Belarus. On June 24, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Defense Initiatives, and its Indian subsidiary. This is aimed at cooperation for supply of ADS to IAF, with technology transfer to BEL. Defense Initiatives declined to provide confirmation of the specific ADS model to be used due to NDA provisions in the MoU. ADS Amulet provides protection against all types of air to air and surface to air missiles, as well as various ground launched projectiles and anti-helicopter mines.
IAF reportedly operates over 220 Mi-17 series helicopters including 1V and V5 variants. A plan to purchase 48 more Mi17 V5s was scrapped earlier this year. Instead, IAF will upgrade the helicopters with the help of Indian industry. IAF had earlier sought to upgrade Mi-17s with a new EW suite in a 2018 tender. The upgrade also involves smart multi-function displays, weather radar, traffic collision and avoidance system and air data systems.
Meanwhile, the Indian MoD released an request for information for procuring 24 Enhanced Capability Global Navigation Satellite System (ECGNSS) jammers for IAF. These are intended to protect assets from hostile aircraft, guided weapons, missiles and drones utilising satellite based navigation by jamming and spoofing the on-board GNSS, degrading their navigation and weapon delivery capabilities. The entire system should be vehicle-mounted for mobility and transportable by air. It must also be capable of use at high altitude areas of at least 5000m above sea level.