Friday 13 December 2019, 03:41 PM
Indian army to have its own fleet of attack helicopters
By IANS | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 10/13/2012 12:00:00 AM

New Delhi: The ministry of defence  has decided to allow the Indian Army to acquire and set up its fleet of attack helicopters. The Army Aviation Corps hitherto has been flying Cheetah and Chetak light utility helicopters but this will be first time that the army will have its own fleet of attack helicopters.

The India Air Force had been objecting to the army demand for attack helicopters on the ground that possessing such a fleet comes under its domain. But the decision of the ministry comes a few days after the IAF chief Air Chief Marshal had said that it was not possible to have ‘little air forces’. Even the defence minister Antony had termed this tussle between both the forces as a ‘family problem’.

The army chief General Bikram Singh confirmed the government decision. “We have received a letter from the ministry and have been given the attack helicopters by the government,” he said on Friday.

To sort out the row between the forces, the National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, on behalf of the defence minister intervened and talked this week to both Army Chief General Vikram Singh and Air Force Chief NAK Browne. He then advised the government that the army should own and operate the fleet of attack helicopters.

The MoD on Thursday ruled that the entire attack helicopter fleet would be owned, operated and maintained by the Army. This includes the soon to be acquired 22 Apache AH-64D helicopters from the US company Boeing (BDS). The Army will also have HAL made indigenous 179 light combat helicopters (LCH) and 76 Rudra weaponised Dhruv helicopters.

According to highly placed sources in the MoD, the ministry has decided that all new acquisitions of attack helicopters will go to the army aviation corps whereas the existing two squadrons of Russia made Mi-25 and Mi-35 attack helicopters will remain with the IAF. The Mi25/35 helicopters are quite old and are likely to be phased out in the coming few years. 

The IAF’s contention has been that the army, in an agreement with the IAF in 1986, had agreed that the attack helicopter fleet should remain with the IAF, and therefore, the demand by the army is not legitimate. 

The Indian Air Force had initiated the process to acquire 22 attack helicopters. According to sources, the American Apache heavy duty helicopters are selected in the trials and a deal for around $1.4 billion is likely to be signed soon. Russian Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant''s Mi-28 Havoc is said to have failed in the trials.

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Indian army to have its own fleet of attack helicopters

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