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Possible sale of Boeing C-17 aircraft to India approved – Pentagon। President Trump tweets: Look forward to welcoming to India’s PM Modi to White House on Monday. 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Tamil Nadu । INS Kalvari, the Indian Navy’s first Scorpene class submarine, will be battle ready from Day One, French collaborator DCNS announced June 1 । Kalvari, meaning shark, will be commissioned in July । Kalvari is the first of the six modern submarines ordered by the Indian Navy । Indian Navy is looking at 200 ships and 400 aircraft, all with hitech systems । Vice Adm Karambir Singh also told a seminar on Future Indian Navy that poor quality systems are not acceptable । Indian shipyards are building 40 ships at present । PM Modi reaches St. Petersburg in the 3rd leg of his 4-nation visit । He is to participate in 18th India Russia Annual Summit and SPIEF 2017 । India, Spain sign 7 agreements including one each on Cyber Security and Civil Aviation । Naval Chief Adm Sunil Lanba calls for cutting edge technologies with a Made in India stamp । Addressing a seminar on Building India’s Future Navy, he said ToT from foreign vendors would be say now with Strategic Partnership model । 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will be his first foreign visit as US President । India, Turkey signed three agreements including one between the Foreign Services Institute of India and the Diplomacy Academy of Turkey । Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls on President Mukherjee, Vice President Ansari, PM Modi and EAM Sushma Swaraj during his State visit to India । The Turkish President, visiting from April 30-May 1, backs India in fight against terrorism । Turkey conveyed its support for India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) । PM Modi expressed his gratitude on Turkey’s support । Indian Army celebrates 79th Armour Day । On 1 May 1938, Scinde Horse cavalry regiment was equipped with Vickers tanks and Chevrolet armoire cars । The Indian Army’s Armourerd Corps has played decisive role against Pakistani intruders in 1947, 1965 and 1971। India, Cyprus sign 4 agreements including one on Air Service Agreement । Agreements signed during Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades’s visit to India 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Conference on International Security in Moscow । India, Russia are celebrating 70 years of Diplomatic Relationship । China launches its first indigenous aircraft carrier । The new carrier will accommodate 36 aircraft and will be commissioned in 2020 after sea trials । It’s a 50000 ton platform with a ski jump deck modeled on Soviet carriers but has many design innovations । India, South Korea Sign Inter-Governmental MoU for Defence Industry Co-Operation in Shipbuilding । The MoU signed by Secretary (Defence Production), India, Ashok Kumar Gupta and Minister of Defence Acquisition and Programme Administration (DAPA), South Korea, Chang Myoung-Jin । The Inter-Governmental MoU was conceived under the overall umbrella of the ‘Special Strategic Partnership’ between both countries । The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) accorded its approval for signing the MoU । The CCS also gave a go ahead for nominating Hindustan Shipyard Ltd, Visakhapatnam for collaboration । Indian Navy successfully test-fires land attack version of Brahmos supersonic cruise missile । Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari calls on President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Home Minister and Defence Minister in New Delhi Apr 18 । Nepalese President is on a State visit to India April 17-21 । This is her first ever visit to India since taking over in 2015 । She was given a ceremonial Guard of Honour on her arrival at Rashtrapati Bhawan । Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Harjit Singh Sajjan, called on Defence Minister Arun Jaitley Tuesday । He was presented a Tri-Services Guard of Honour on his arrival at South Block । 12 killed in Saudi military helicopter in Yemen । Unconfined reports say the Blackhawk was accidentally shot down by a Saudi Patriot missile। US NSA Gen HR McMaster meets Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi । Gen McMaster also exchanged views on Indo-US relations with Indian counterpart Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar । Happy Easter । US drops its biggest 21,000 pound 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Delhi metro ride to visit city-based Akshardham Temple । India, Bangladesh signed 22 agreements April 8 including key pacts on defence cooperation and civil nuclear cooperation । India announced an additional $4.5-billion concessional line of credit for infrastructure projects in Bangladesh, and another $500 million for Dhaka to procure defence equipment from New Delhi । A joint India-Bangladesh event saw both PMs honour the 1,661 Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the 1971 war for Bangladesh’s independence । Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrives in New Delhi for 4-day State visit to India । Prime Minister Modi himself goes to the airport to greet the Bangladesh PM on her arrival । External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj calls on Sheikh Hasina at Rashtrapati Bhawan । She is the special guest of President Pranab Mukherjee during her State visit to India । The Bangladesh PM has a full day of bilateral discussions with her Indian counterpart on Saturday (April 8) । 20 agreements are expected to be signed between India and Bangladesh । India, Malaysia sign 7 agreements । The agreements signed during Malaysian PM Najib Razak’s visit to India from March 30 to April 4 । Malaysian PM calls on President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi । India and Malaysia joint statement, issued after Modi, Razak meeting, calls for a deeper ties between the two nations ।
June 28, 2017
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Indian Army Set To Get Apache Combat Helicopters

Order to be Placed by September
By Lt Gen BS Pawar (Retd) Published: June 2017
 

Apache1

New Delhi. The Indian Army is finally set to get its first lot of combat helicopters, and the beginning is being made with the Boeing Apache AH-64E.

The Army Aviation Corps has been sanctioned 11 of these latest combat helicopters. These machines in fact are from the 50 per cent option clause in the Boeing contract for 22 helicopters for the Indian Air Force (IAF). As the validity of the offer at the same old IAF price and terms and conditions is only till September, the Army, Ministry of Defence and Boeing are working full time to ensure that the order is placed well on time, sources told India Strategic.

Notably, the Army had demanded 39 Apache attack helicopters for its three Strike Corps in the plains. Initially, the Government approved 22 machines for the IAF, but later, as a policy decision, it was decided to give further supplies to the Army. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley gave the approval for acquisition of these 11 helicopters on May 20 this year.

It is not known if and when the Army will get the 28 more Apaches it desires, but the previous Government had accorded it this approval in principle in 2012. Due to budget constraints, IAF has been made reluctantly to give up its hope on its follow-on requirement. There will have to be fresh negotiations for any new lot.

Nonetheless, the Army and IAF will not only both operate the formidable Apaches, they will also get the indigenous Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) being developed by HAL in numbers. IAF has already ordered 64 of these machines, made mostly from composite materials to facilitate their flights up to 5,000 meters, that is, mountainous terrains like the Kargil heights. As no country makes helicopters specifically for such heights and the rough corrosive Himalayan weather, HAL has been trying to do the needful and several development flights of the LCH have already taken place.

As for the Apaches for the Army and IAF, they will have commonality in capabilities and onboard weapons and warfare suites, including the Lockheed Martin’s Longbow radar and Raytheon’s air-to-air Stinger missiles. The 64E variant is the latest and also being given to the US Army nearly at the same time.

The Longbow is a powerful radar and helps detect targets hidden in foliage and dense environment.

Background

The case for inclusion of Combat, or Attack, Helicopters to be part and parcel of the Army dates back to 1963 when Gen JN Chaudhary, the then Chief of Army Staff (COAS), stressed the requirement for a separate air wing for the Army.

He had emphasised that efforts at increasing the firepower and mobility of the Army would not be complete without an integral aviation element comprising light, medium, heavy as well as armed/attack helicopters. Finally, after vacillating for decades, it was on October 12, 2012 that the Government took the call on the crucial issue of the ownership and operations of Attack Helicopters in favour of the Army.

Although the first 22 Apaches are to stay with IAF, the new acquisitions will be owned, operated and maintained by the Army. Though late in coming, the decision was a welcome step for the Army and would have a major impact on war fighting in the Tactical Battle Area (TBA).This lethal weapon system as part of Army’s inventory is expected to greatly enhance its capability, making it a battle winning factor in any future conflict.

The Army had also demanded that the 22 Apaches for the IAF should also be transferred to it but IAF has held that it has to have them as part of its control over the Indian skies and also to complement its various aerial assets, particularly for Combat Search and rescue (CSAR). The Ministry of Defence agreed with this view.

The Army has a few aviation pilots posted to existing IAF combat helicopter squadrons – or units as the Army calls them – which operate the Russian Mi-25 and Mi-35 machines. These helicopters are owned and operationally controlled by the Army but flown by IAF. Because of this factor, the Army also suggested 50:50 share of the Apaches but this was not accepted. Instead the Government accorded approval for a fresh lot of 39 Apaches for the Army.

It is with this background that the current approval for the Army to acquire Apache helicopters needs to be viewed. As this is a repeat order under the options clause, there will be no fresh tendering or trials but a smooth continuation of the supplies on the same terms.

India had purchased 22 Apaches and 15 CH-47 Chinooks for about $3 billion under the US Government’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme.

Why Attack Helicopters for the Army

The primary mission of army aviation is to fight the land battle and support ground operations, operating in the TBA as a combined arms team expanding the ground commander’s battlefield in space and time.

Its battlefield leverage is achieved through a combination of reconnaissance, mobility and intense fire power. The combat helicopter’s greatest contribution to battlefield success is the ability it gives a Commander to apply decisive combat power at critical times virtually anywhere on the battlefield in the form of direct fire from aviation manoeuvre units (attack/armed helicopters) or insertion of overwhelming ground forces at the point of decision (utility/lift helicopters).

The assets required for the above manoeuvre, that is, the attack and assault helicopters must be at the beck and call of the field force commander and also piloted by men in olive green who fully understand the ground situation. This will ensure the optimum utilisation of the battle winning resource. This has been the basic rationale on which the army’s case for ownership of these assets rests.

Significantly, unlike the Air Force assets, the Army Aviation units and helicopters are located closer to their operational areas and along with the formations affiliated to, especially at the Corps level. During war, these units will require to operate from forward composite aviation bases, catering for security, maintenance, fueling and arming facilities. The employment philosophy dictates the need to develop organisations that enhance aviation capabilities to support the concept of operations of field commanders and be tailored to meet the evolving operational requirements; hence the concept of Aviation Brigade with each Corps and not bases as in the case of Air Force.

With the Indian Army’s Doctrine of ‘Cold Start’ or the ‘proactive strategy’ as the Government would like to call it, which is Pak-centric, restructuring has been done of the Pivot Corps to enable quick and immediate action within 48-72 hours by using the integral assets at the Corps level. This also calls for induction of combat and other helicopters within the Army itself.

In fact both our adversaries, China and Pakistan, have very potent AH inventories in the air arms of their respective armies. The Pakistani army has the Russian Mi-25/Mi-35 and US Huey Cobras attack helicopters while reports indicate that it has also acquired the Chinese Z-10 recently.

Indian Army’s Helicopter Inventory

The Army is already in the process of inducting the armed version of the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Rudra developed by the HAL with a unit currently under raising. Though not a typical attack helicopter, it has an array of comparable weapon systems to include gun, rockets, air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles (ATGM). The Rudra units are to form part of the Holding/Pivot Corps constituting a formidable offensive punch to the field force commander.

On the other hand, the LCH developed by HAL is expected to be a milestone achievement. The LCH aims to gatecrash the exclusive club of the state-of-the-art light attack helicopters, which includes Eurocopter’s Tiger, Bell’s AH-1Z Super Cobra and China’s Zhisheng 10 (Z-10).

The LCH is a derivative of the ALH and the Rudra and is being designed to fit into an anti-infantry and anti-armour role with capability to operate at high altitudes (16,000 feet), a distinct advantage over other attack helicopters.

Its induction is just about on the anvil. The Government has cleared induction of five LCHs in the Army although their number eventually would be much more.

It may be recalled that during the 1999 Kargil War, neither the Indian Air Force nor the Army had required helicopter assets to support the Indian troops fighting to evict the intruding Pakistanis from the rough mountain heights where the battles were concentrated.

Conclusion

The primary role of the Attack Helicopters the world over is to support and fight the land battle in the tactical domain. It has to operate as part of the combined arms team and not in isolation. This has been the experience in the Gulf War as also in Afghanistan.

The visibility of an attack helicopter, which is literally a flying tank, can boost the morale of own troops and its firepower would be lethal for an enemy.

With the increasing induction of a range of helicopters, the Indian Army will need to plan and work out appropriate employment philosophies as well as rugged training and maintenance procedures to exploit the full potential of these battle winning machines in the future.

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