Indian armed forces were again pressing the throttle to achieve their aim of inducting around 900 helicopters in the coming decade, Indian media reported on Sunday. The "rotary birds" in the pipeline include 384 light-utility and observation, 139 medium-lift, 90 naval multi-role, 65 light combat, 22 heavy-duty attack, 15 heavy-lift, 12 VVIP, five maritime early-warning and 86 Dhruv advanced light helicopters. While contracts for some of these helicopters are being executed after being inked earlier, like the Rs 3,726 crore-deal for the dozen AW-101 three-engine choppers to ferry VVIPs, others are still in the planning stage. Indian armed forces want all the projects to get going at the earliest to plug operational gaps and replace ageing fleets. IAF, for instance, is moving towards finalizing a second contract with Russia for another 59 Mi-17-V5 helicopters after the phased delivery of the first 80 of these medium-lift "rotary birds" began in September. "Of the 80 Mi-17s ordered under the $1.34-billion deal in 2008, the first squadron has come up in Bhatinda. Indian Air Force will get 26 of these choppers by end-December, with the second squadron coming up in Srinagar by March. All the 80 will be inducted by 2014," said a senior official. "The 59 more Mi-17s, which will cost around $1 billion, will be ordered under the follow-on clause in the first contract. They will also be weaponized for combat operations like the first 80. The new Mi-17s will also make it possible for IAF to deploy additional choppers for logistical support in anti-Naxal operations," he added. Indian navy, too, is keen to kick-start the induction of 90 multi-role helicopters (MRHs), with both combat and search-and-rescue capabilities, to replace the older Sea King helicopters and meet the requirements of a growing maritime force. At present, the field trial evaluation report of European NH-90 and American Sikorsky-70B helicopters is being examined for the first over Rs 2,000 crore contract of 16 MRHs. "For the second contract for 75 MRH, the initial proposals of five aviation majors are being studied," said an official. Boeing is set to bag the $1.4-billion contract to supply 22 missile-armed gunships after its AH-64D Apache Longbow did much better than Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant's Mi-28N Night Hunter' in the field trials. But the long-drawn acquisition of 384 light helicopters to replace Army and IAF's ageing Cheetah and Chetak fleets -197 to be acquired from a foreign vendor for over Rs 3, 000 crore, while 187 to be manufactured by HAL - is yet to take shape. Dogged by several controversies, the technical evaluation report of Russian Kamov Ka-226T and Eurocopter AS 550 C3 Fennec is being studied by the defence ministry before one contender is selected for commercial negotiations.