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SOURCE: ANITA DESAI / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

Pakistan’s latest procurement of 30 Turkish Aerospace Industries developed T129 ATAK helicopter gunships over Cheaper Chinese CAIC Z?10 helicopter gunships might have something to do with T129 abilities to perform adequately over the higher altitudes which AH?1F Cobra gunships and Mil Mi?35M Hind helicopter gunships presently in Pakistani service are ill-equipped to do so.

Indian Army till a few years ago suffered from the same problem, Mil Mi?25/35 could not be pressed into service during Kargil War and makeshift aerial Helicopter firepower provided by Mi-8/17 Helicopters with Rocket Pods were grossly inadequate and one Mi-17 while attacking a hilltop position was hit by a man-portable surface to air missile leading to death of the whole crew.

While a need for a higher altitude capable helicopter gunship was felt after the Kargil War by Indian Army, but not many helicopter gunships were able to operate at extreme harsh conditions of the Himalayan range nor were able to carry any decent payloads at such altitudes that when India felt need to develop its own multirole combat helicopter which went on to be called Light Combat Helicopter (LCH).

LCH at two roles in Indian Army and Indian Airforce, One to provide decent firepower to each Strike corps in the plain and to provide much-needed firepower in high altitudes when needed and during years of trials LCH has performed extremely well in a mix of both extreme altitudes and relatively high temperatures of the desert heat and by end of 2019, both Airforce and Army will start taking deliveries of the helicopters in their units.

T129 ATAK helicopter gunships during its trials in Pakistan was exclusively tested over the higher altitudes of the Hindu Kush mountain range and seemingly performed well over Chinese CAIC Z?10 helicopter gunships due to which they were chosen over cheaper alternatives suggesting higher altitude performance was an utmost important criterion for the Pakistani military planners and induction of LCH in Indian Army pretty much was the obvious reason.

T129 ATAK and LCH both are similar in performance but LCH can climb much better at higher altitudes with a decent weapons load, but same is cannot be said of T129 which is a design based on Agusta A129 Mangusta platform which was developed to perform at high altitude mountain range of European terrain which nowhere comes close to the Himalayan range.

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