Army looks to buy 60 new Multi Role Helicopters
Indian army send a letter to the defense ministry for the possible option of buying 60 new multi role helicopters to the Army's Aviation Corps for battle support, Army quests the defense ministry the new helicopters comes in 10 to 12 ton category with the lifting weight of some 4 to 5 tons, These Helicopters can assist the army troops with logistics and quick deployment in forward area's.
The Army's long term plan is operating multi role helicopters, So far the Army operates some light helicopters like Dhruv and Cheetah variants, who has minimum operational capability in battle fields, due to low weights those helicopters won't carry more cargo or additional troops. Even the new planned Ka 226 T is too lies in the Light utility variant.
Most of all time Army needs the Air force's assists for some missions. There is many procedures to get support from the Air force, Army asked the defense ministry repeatedly to transfer some of the Mi 17 units to the Aviation corps. The ministry and the air force refused to do so. The operation against Naxal is good example.
Recently India and Boeing made a contract to supply 15 new CH 47 F multi role heavy lift aircraft to Indian Army, the Helicopters are manned by the Air force pilots, however the user is Indian Army's 17th Corps, the same goes to newly planned procurement of more C 130 J transporters. Those transporters works for the Mountain strike corps only.
Army almost shortlisted some of the multi role helicopters which include Mi 17 v5, the Black hawk Helicopter, EC 725 Caracel and the CH 47 F. Army asks the ministry to buy those new helicopters and operate under the aviation corps. unlike the operating procedure of using Air force pilots.
Indian Army earlier asked the Government about the dedicated attack helicopters such as the AH 64, The first lot of AH 64 goes to the air force, However Army asks more than 39 attack helicopter to meet their requirements, Defense ministry tells the Army to look on the armed variant of Dhruv and LCH, Army asks they need all the said models include the AH 64.
By looking the CAG report and Parliament standing committee reports, The Indian Army poorly used the Dhruv variants, The average operational capability of those helicopters fell less than 50%. Which raises questions about Army's maintenance procedure and the HAL's maintenance and spare parts supports. So Ministry twice to think before looking on those helicopter procurement for the Army Aviation corps.
The cost of buying new helicopters for the army may cross over $2 billions, adding another set of AH 64 helicopters goes to another $2 billion. Army looking for autonomous air borne systems too, variety of those system may goes over another $2 billions. By reality ministry not going to spend some $6 billions for the army aviation corps.
However ministry may give clear path to the aviation corps to get helicopter support from Air force, otherwise later some year step by step Ministry may fulfill the Army's requirement of air borne platforms.