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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to extend the operational life of its single remaining squadron of Mi-35 attack helicopters until 2030. This decision comes as the IAF transitions its attack helicopter fleet towards more modern platforms.

Previously, the IAF operated two squadrons of the Mi-25/35 helicopters, a Soviet-era design. However, one squadron was phased out in 2019-20 following the induction of a more advanced attack helicopter, the Boeing AH-64E Apache.

The decision to retain the Mi-35s until 2030 reflects the IAF’s need to maintain a certain level of attack helicopter capability during the interim period. This gap will be filled by the indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) Prachand, designed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The IAF has plans to acquire a total of 66 Prachands, with 10 already inducted. Once the Prachand is fully operational and fielded in sufficient numbers, the Mi-35s are expected to be completely phased out.

The IAF’s helicopter fleet is undergoing a modernization process. The induction of the Apaches and the upcoming deployment of the LCH Prachand mark a significant step towards enhancing the IAF’s offensive helicopter capabilities. While the Mi-35s will continue to serve for a few more years, the future of the IAF’s attack helicopter fleet belongs to these more modern platforms.

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