IAF plans to use armed Mi 17 against Maoists
|IAF Mi 17 v5 with two side mounted 2x12.7mm gun pods and Rocket launchers|
The Indian air force gets an official order from the home ministry and defense ministry to use helicopter gun ships for self defense when fighting against Maoist insurgents. So far the Mi 17 used for dropping commando's in dense battle field, carryout reconnaissance missions and medical evacuation. However they never allowed to use the guns or rocket pods fitted in the Mi 17 to provide close air support to the friendly forces. From now after heavy pressure from the state police and CRPF, the government agreed the proposal of using helicopter gun fire support for self defense.
The Indian government deployed more than one lakh para military soldiers from CRPF, BSF, and ITBP along with additional of some 2,00,000 state police in Maoist prone states like Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Maharashtra and Odisha. with air support from IAF helicopter Mi 17 and small UAV's. The CRPF special forces like COBRA and some other state police special forces also deployed for special operations.
Maoist is an extreme insurgent group who ask separate nation for their own peoples with the support from Chinese and other communist movements. They were armed with small fire arms and .50 caliber guns and RPG's along with the usage of high powerful IED's and bombs whicn even take out armored personnel carriers . That makes the Maoists one of the heavily equipped terrorists forces in India. They yet to get MANPAD's however they soon get such sophisticated missile system from Chinese supply line.
Earlier in January 2013, The Maoists forces gunned down a low flying Mi 17 Helicopter. The Helicopter bound to evacuate a wounded para military personnel inside the hot zone. The Mi 17 successfully performed the mission and about to take off. The Maoists saw the Helicopter and fired on the helicopter. Bullets hits the Helicopters tail and windshield. Which makes the Helicopter forced to land for precautions. The IAF pilot decided to land the helicopter in a safe zone and tries to escape, and he did it.
The IAF pilots informed about the helicopter's emergency landing to the nearby army outpost. The command sends Soldiers and special forces to rescue the Pilots and other soldiers and safe guard the helicopter. The troops successfully moved out the Helicopter from the hot zone. after maintenance the same helicopter returned to duties within months.
|12.7 mm and 20mm gun pods ideal with Mi 17 V 5|
Meantime the home ministry issues strict order to do not use the helicopter's guns and Rockets. The Maoists attacks the low flying helicopters many times. However they never gunned down. Due to this orders It's hard to perform counter insurgency missions deep inside the Maoists red zone like Odisha and Chattisgarh. Earlier Mi 17 versions don't have the gun pod and rocket pods. however the newly deployed Mi 17 do have arms can be retrofitted.
The Mi 17 can be configured with rockets pods and 12.7mm and 7.62 mm Heavy machine gun pods each with thousand rounds in the wings. The Mi 17 v5 had six hard points three in each side. Usually the IAF Mi 17 v 5 carry's rocket pods to destroy fortified targets and light armor vehicles. However the Maoists don't have such fortified or armored systems. So using the machine guns are way too effectively against the Maoist. Adding two 12.7mm two 7.62 mm along with two Rocket pods is the best suitable fire power against the Maoist. The Mi 17 can be configured with door mounted machine guns too.
During in a interview Additional DG (anti-Naxal operations) R K Vij told that "Maoists have often fired at Mi-17s (helicopters). We have lost personnel and people, but we have never retaliated. The law has never stopped us from retaliation. We have conducted exercises. Garud commandos of the Indian Air Force practised firing from Mi-17. We are not sitting ducks, we can also attack them. It will help us handle the situation better."
|Door mounted 7.62mm HMG in Mi 17|
“On October 13, three IAF helicopters flew over a specified area of Bijapur and practised strafing. Senior officers of the IAF and anti-Naxal operations of the state police participated in the exercise,” Vij said. So from now IAF would carry out air raids if Maiots try to harm any aerial activities conducted by the armed forces.