The government has approved deployment of six new MI-17 variant helicopters and also enhanced the strength of CRPF troops to 76,000 for conducting anti-Naxal operations in Maoist hotbeds of the country.
“Letter of Intent was issued on September 6 (this year) for hiring of six MI-17 or equivalent helicopters on wet lease for anti-Naxal operations,” Home Minister P Chidambaram told reporters here.
These additional air-combatants will be fully armoured and will be deployed to assist in the deployment, reinforcement and casualty evacuation of troops of the CRPF, ITBP, BSF and state police personnel involved in counter-Maoist operations.
At present, a total of nine helicopters are deployed for similar duties in the Naxal operations grid.
These include four MI-17 choppers of the IAF in Chhattisgarh, two each at Raipur and Jagdalpur, while out of the five ‘Dhruv’ Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) of the BSF, three are placed at Raipur and two at Ranchi in Jharkhand.