Indian Air Force to withdraw choppers on UN duties in Africa

      The Indian Air Force (IAF) will progressively phase out its helicopters currently used in the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions in the Africa's Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. Air Marshal N V Tyagi, Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, said this while flagging-off a new contingent of the IAF to United Nations Peace Keeping Force (UNPKF) to Congo at New Delhi on Thursday. He also noted that the helicopters pulled out from Congo would not be inducted in anti-Maoist operations, as reported by the media. "The main tasks, which have needed attention, are air maintenance, border roads, and general tasks performed by helicopters. Naxal Maoist problem is recent in origin and whatever the requirements are would be met from the assets available," said Air Marshal N V Tyagi, Deputy Chief of the Air Staff. He mentioned that in total 17 MI-17 and 8 MI-35 helicopters would be withdrawn by mid 2011. The first contingent, which will be pulled out, consists of five MI-17 and four MI-35 helicopters. The IAF's motive of peace keeping in Congo has also been enhanced to stabilisation operations. "The Indian Air Force Contingent's basic motive was peace keeping but from first July it has changed to stabilisation operations. Their primary role is to provide mobility to the forces and to take actions against those trying to destabilise peace," added Air Marshal N V Tyagi.

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