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US offers Stinger missiles for India’s LCH

 

 
 
By Sangeeta Saxena Published: January 2012
 
 
 
   

New Delhi. The US is offering the formidable Stinger air-toair missiles (AAMs) for India’s Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) being developed by HAL.

 

Raytheon’s Business Development Manager for missile systems Brad Barnard told newsmen here that the Stinger AAM is already on board the Boeing Apache 64D which the Indian Air Force (IAF) is likely to buy. But the missile could also de deployed on board India’s LCH and other helicopters used both by IAF and the Indian Army.

The Boeing Apache has been cleared by the US Government along with onboard Stingers, Lockheed Martin’s Hellfire missiles and Northrop Grumman’s Longbow radar. These powerful combat systems would need to be cleared again by the US State and Defense departments if India wants them for other aircraft or vehicles.

Barnard said: “We have offered the Stinger missile as part of weapons package with the Apache-64D offered by the US Government to the IAF’s tender for 22 attack helicopters, but it should be available for IAF and Army helicopters.

Procedurally, US companies are not allowed to make offers of military equipment without US Government’s concurrence. Washington has been saying that it is willing to sell sophisticated equipment to India, and apparently, it has given the nod to Raytheon.

The shoulder launched version of the Stinger became famous in the 1980s after Afghans used the weapon to shoot down many Soviet helicopters. This version is however not on the table; neither India has asked for it nor the US has offered it. The Stinger though can easily be mounted on vehicles.

India is buying 22 combat helicopters. IAF is yet to disclose the winner but the other competitor in the race, Russia’s Mi 28, is reported to have lost.

HAL has two LCH prototypes undergoing extensive tests. The French Nexter gun has successfully been tested but there are no reports yet about AAMs. Meant for the Himalayan high altitudes, IAF has a likely order of 60-plus helicopters.

The Stinger can also be used on the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) already being flown by the Army in the northern mountains. The armed version of the ALH, designated Rudra by the Army Aviation Corps, has successfully been test flown at 20,000 by Army’s ace pilot, Brig Amardeep Sidhu.

 
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