The Telegraph India has reported that India is preparing to withdraw the last four Mi-35 attack helicopters next month, citing strong domestic need for the aircraft. The contract with Monusco (the UN’s mission in Democratic Republic of Congo) expires in less than two weeks on 4th July. However, the Congo is heading towards a residential election, prompting the UN to call for the helicopters to stay longer, but this has apparently been rejected by Delhi.
India originally had 17 helicopters in the Congo and Sudan, including eight Mi-24/35 attack helicopters and nine Mi-17 transports. Of these, only the four Mi-35s remain in the Congo. India first announced in September last year that it was taking back its helicopters serving with the United Nations. The Indian Air Force had informed the defence ministry that operating attack helicopters in Africa necessitated cannibalising other helicopters for spare parts, potentially grounding parts of the fleet.
The United Nations is not happy about India’s decision. In February the UN predicted a shortfall of nearly sixty helicopters by April. “It remains the case that too many of our missions struggle without critical assets necessary to properly fulfil their mandates, assets that only Member States can provide,” Alain Le Roy, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping told the UN General Assembly’s Special Committee on Peacekeeping in February. “Military helicopter units, in particular, are an absolute force requirement for operations conducted in vast and remote locations, as many of our missions do,” Le Roy said, predicting a shortfall of 56 out a required 137 helicopters by April. The UN missions in Sudan, Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will be those most affected.
Jeremy Parkin - HeliHub.com
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