SOURCE: MANJUNATH REDDDY/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Since the creation of Indian Army Aviation Corps (AAC) in 1986, a tussle has been brewing for the ownerships of Rotary Platforms between Indian Army Aviation and Indian Airforce. The first instance was when Indian Army wanted to ownership of Mil Mi-25/Mi-35 attack Helicopters and Mi-26 heavy transport helicopter which is administered by the Indian Air Force but were under the operational control of the Army and procured from their Budget.
Indian Army for long pitched for its own dedicated fleet of attack helicopters which has been opposed by Indian Air Force (IAF) which feels it role will diminish and in future Indian Army Aviation might demand separate Transport aircraft fleet to meet its operational needs.
Since its creation, Army Aviation Corps has become the largest operator of helicopters among all three Services and majority of its inventory consisting of light observation class like Cheetah and Chetak and light utility Advanced Light Helicopter (Dhruv) but debate was reignited when India decided to buy 22 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters all paid by Indian Army but administered by the Indian Air Force.
At Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley earlier this year, Indian Army had asked for 22 attack helicopters to be transferred to its custody, which was rejected by the Air Force but DAC intervened and decided to allow Indian Army procure 11 Apache helicopters while IAF gets 22 helicopters.
But at the recent meet by Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) only purchase of six Boeing made Apache AH-64E multi-role attack helicopters valued at Rs4,168 crore were cleared for the army and it is not clear if Army later will be allowed to procure 5 more Apache as promised earlier but it is clear now that Army Aviation Corps is all set for major growth in coming years as it expands its inventory.
Army Aviation Corps already has placed orders for 65 Weaponized ALH-WSI ” Rudra ” helicopters and is also keen on acquiring 114 indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) from HAL from 2018 onwards. Army Aviation will play a vastly enhanced role in land operations in the coming years and Attack Helicopters will play crucial roles.
All major armies of the world including our adversaries like China and Pakistan have a full-fledged air arm of their own, comprising all types of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft and it is high time Indian Air force stops trying to own all Aviation assets in the country.