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SOURCE: Express News Service

The Indian Army is quietly sprucing up its air combat capability with major inductions. In the next 10 years, the Army’s Aviation Corps (AAC) will have a formidable array of helicopters. Confirming the inductions a senior Army Officer said, “We have an ongoing plan to induct about 500 helicopters and most of it will be indigenous.”

A number of these helicopters have already been inducted and rest will be completed in the next 10 years, added the officer. Speaking on the combat and combat support role, the officer said there will be five types of helicopters which the AAC will finally operate. Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv is an indigenously manufactured helicopter by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and its induction started in 2001.

“We have seventy ALH Dhruv helicopters and it will be eighty by 2020. It is being exploited to the hilt in the most difficult terrains like the super high altitude of Siachen Glacier to the extremely hot weather in Rajasthan,” said the officer who didnot want to be named.

Adding to the mission Made in India, 50 armed Rudra helicopters have already been inducted and 10 more will join the force by 2020.

“This helicopter is capable of mounting anti-tank guided missiles and can serve as an escort for the heli-borne operations of Army,” the officer said.

Army Aviation has chosen another weaponised platform, the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH).

Finally, 90 of them will be with the Army in next seven to ten years. “It is primarily meant for mountain warfare. It is armour protected and has enhanced manoeuvrability,” the officer said.

Foreign hand

The Army is also inducting two foreign-manufactured helicopters.

Six US-made Apache 64E will join the force by 2021.

They are also planning to induct 200, Russian-made Kamov (Ka 226T) for recce.