India, Iran Sign 12 Agreements including one on Chabahar Port development | Chabahar Port Agreement envisages $500 million assistance from India | India-Iran Friendship will be a factor of stability in our region, says PM Modi | The two countries will have regular consultations on combating terrorism, radicalism, drug, trafficking and cyber-crime | India Launches First Ever Indigenous Space Shuttle RLV-TD | The Indigenous Space Shuttle Launched from SDSC (SHAR) Sriharikota at 0700 hrs May 23 | RLV-TD, another milestone in Indian Space History, is a Reusable Launch Vehicle | The 'Made in India' Shuttle is to Reduce Cost of Launching Satellites | India, Oman Sign 4 Agreements including one on Defence Cooperation | The Agreements Signed during Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's Visit to Oman May 20-22 | An Egyptair Airbus A 320 crashes in the Mediterranean Sea | The flight was on way home to Cairo from Paris | There was no distress signal and the aircraft lost radar contact suddenly | Egyptian, French and Greek aircraft and ships are searching the waters | The aircraft went missing 20 minutes before scheduled landing | Flight MS 804 was commanded by a pilot with 10 years experience | It had 56 passengers, Egyptians and French, and 10 crew | Details are not available but France has heightened security at its airports in view of previous terror attacks | Aviation and security agencies are grappling with what possibility could have happened | There are reports of a fireball in the sky though from the captain of a ship in the area | India successfully test fires indigenously developed nuclear capable missile Prithvi-II | The missile test fired from Integrated Test Range (ITR) Chandipur, Odisha May 18 | Indian Navy decommissions Sea Harrier jump jets after 33 years of service | Naval Squadron 300 inducts MiG-29K as replacement May 11 | Naval Chief Adm Robin Dhowan says naval air arm on threshold of transformation | India launches regional navigation satellite IRNSS-1G | IRNSS-1G was launched by PSLV C-33 from SDSC (SHAR) Sriharikota | This is seventh and the last in the series of Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) | Indian Navy sailing towards a 200-ship and 700-aircraft Force by 2027 | Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Dhowan tells a seminar it's about a Builder's Navy now | Defence manufacturing will be a key driver to India's double digit growth, says NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant | Indian Air Force also interacts with Indian and foreign industry to work on an Indigenisation Roadmap | IAF Chief Arup Raha says there is huge potential for indigenisation in manufacturing equipment and its maintenance spares | Navy will grant Permanent Commission to women officers after 7 years |
 

Army Aviation
The Arm of the Future

 

 
 
By Gulshan Luthra Published: September 2011
 
 
 
 
 

New Delhi. India’s Army Aviation Corps is marking its Silver Jubilee this year with hopes of doubling its helicopter fleet and also inducting dedicating combat helicopters some time in the near future.

 

The Corps held a two-day seminar recently with the title “Army Aviation: The Arm of the Future,” clearing indicating its emphasis on the requirement of helicopters in possible future battles, which would be fluid and fast-changing, and would need capable flying machines to support the Indian Army’s armour and troops 24 x 7.

The Indian Army was stated to have half the strength of Pakistan Army’s helicopter fleet of more than 550, and of course, most of the helicopters with the Indian armed forces are in any case of Soviet vintage and outdated.

There was a general demand from serving and retired Army officers for moving the combat and heavy lift helicopters from the Indian Air Force to the Army for operationally better results. At present, IAF holds these assets, and IAF pilots operate them in coordination with the Army.

Defence Minister A K Antony, who inaugurated the seminar, said it would be best if the Armed Forces sorted out the matter of sharing assets between themselves and that if needed, he could help play a limited role. Former Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Arun Prakash, also said that any inter-Services issues should be sorted out by the three Chiefs themselves, and that in the spirit of give-and-take, the Army and Navy should also accede to the IAF’s suggestion for exclusively controlling the Space Command.

The minister however said that the Government did understand the changing nature of warfare, terrorism and asymmetric threats, and was committed to the modernization of the Indian armed forces. But, he observed:

“Although you (Army Aviation Corps) are going in for force accretion, while enhancing your capabilities and performing your role, you must ensure that there is perfect synergy between the Army and Air Force. Services will have to act in reconciliation amongst themselves so that India can have better and strong and Armed Forces.”

Younger IAF and Army officers pointed out that the exist ing arrangement had worked well in terms of IAF-Army coordination but senior officers observed that it would be best if Army pilots flew the helicopters in the battlefield in close support of their colleagues on the ground. That was the trend the world over, and should be so in case of India also.

Notably, IAF is set to acquire 22 combat helicopters and 15 heavy lift helicopters from a choice of US and Russian machines – depending upon the capabilities and price – but these are paid for out of the Army’s budget as they would be used for support of the ground troops. For a country the size of India, this is a relatively small number, and there would perhaps be a repeat acquisition in the coming years.

At present, both the heavy lift and combat helicopters with the IAF are of 25-year Soviet vintage with obsolete onboard systems. IAF has already submitted the technical evaluation reports to the Ministry of Defence and a decision is expected by year-end or March 2012.

Officers from the Navy, Air Force, think tanks and paramilitary bodies also took part in the seminar, co-hosted by the Army Aviation and the Centre for Land Warfare studies (CLAWS), the Indian Army’s think tank.

Army Chief Gen V K Singh said that emergence of 4th and 5th generation threats, increasing tempo, net centric warfare and newer weapons had placed new demands for capability and strength and all assets of the Army have to be made integral to a theatre of operation.

Army Aviation provides a commander the opportunity to maneuver and “fleeting opportunities” in a battle can be effectively exploited by airborne assets.

Adm Arun Prakash, a naval aviator, said in his Special address that the power of aviation is “omnipotent” and that once air dominance is achieved in the battle theatre, “the war is virtually won.” Aviation assets can play a role in achieving decisive victories, “swiftly and cheaply.”

Lt Gen V K Ahluwalia, Colonel Commandant of the Corps, gave a brief history of its evolution when it was first raised on Nov 1, 1986 from the Artillery’s Air Observation Post (AOP) units. Its pilots later flew in operations in Sri Lanka as well as in India.

Helicopters and air assets, he said, would help in dislocation of an adversary in the shortest possible time, and simultaneously, provide the benefits of surprise, maneuver, capability and logistics support to own units. He also emphasized on the requirement of multi role aircraft with electronic warfare and night attack capabilities.

Lt Gen Anil Chait observed that aviation is a great asset, “giving the power of the edge” to the Indian Army’s field commanders. It can help concentrate combat power at the right place, compress time lines and facilitate multi-tasking. Integrated employment of air land battle assets can disrupt an enemy’s buildup and facilitate speedy victory.

He pointed out that the future battles would be Technology driven, all weather, day and night 24 x 7, and dominated by aviation assets including the UAVs and UCAVs. Accordingly, the Indian Army has to keep up with the technologies and pace of changes to make its aviation assets a game changer.

It will be “the arm of decision,” he observed.

The seminar was also addressed by Brig Gurmeet Kanwal, Director CLAWS, Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi (Retd), Lt gen K S Jamwal (Retd), Lt Gen V G Patankar (Rtetd), Lt Gen Sumer Singh, HAL’s Helicopter Division Managing Director Soundra Rajan, Lt Gen B S Pawar (Retd) and Lt Gen V K Kapoor (Retd).

Maj Gen P K Bharali, Additional Director General of the Army Aviation, briefed the participants on the growth of the Corps.

It may be noted that from 1984 onwards, Army Aviation has been in the forefront of operations to control the icy peaks in the Siachen Glacier, which is perhaps the ultimate frontier for any soldier. Army Aviators routinely operate at 22,000 feet around the glacier, providing the proverbial lifeline for Indian soldiers in the tough terrain there.

The Army Aviation Corps has taken part in a number of UN missions, and several disaster relief operations within India.

The Corps inducted the first HALmade Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv in 2001. Since then, this fleet has grown rapidly and is already on the path to becoming its mainstay for day and night operations.

Army Aviation is also set to acquire the Mark III Electronic Warfare (EW) and Mark IV armed version of ALH in the coming few months.

 
  © India Strategic  
     
   
 
Top Stories
Indian Coast Guard Commissions Fast Patrol Vessel (FPV) ‘ICGS Arush’
Fourteen-Member Indian Navy Team Completes Mt Jogin IIII (6465 M 6116 M) Expedition-2016
INSV Mhadei Sails to Mauritius with an All Women Crew
India Successfully Launches Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD)
INS Tarmugli Joins Indian Navy
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar Visits Oman
India Lends Helping Hands to Sri Lanka
Indian Warships Visit Muscat in Oman
Indian Navy Ships from Kochi deployed for Assistance in Sri Lanka
Thales signs new contract to provide CATHERINE thermal imaging cameras to India
MoS Home Kiren Rijiju Flies IAF’s Fighter Aircraft Su-30MKI
INS Karmuk attends closing ceremony of 27th Ind-Indo CORPAT
Indian Navy’s Eastern Fleet Ships on deployment to South China, North West Pacific
Navy Chief Lays Foundation Stone of ‘Sahara’ Hostel
Chief of Air Staff Flies LCA, Calls it Fit for Induction
ISRO’s inroads in Regional Navigation
Indian Warships on 4-day Visit to Manama, Bahrain
Army Chief inaugurates Biennial Armoured Corps Conference
Vice Admiral Girish Luthra inaugurates MRI facility at INHS Sanjivani
Indian Warships visit Dubai (UAE)
 
   
 Home | Contact Us| In the Press| Links| Downloads
© 2008-14, India Strategic. All rights reserved.