Infantry modernisation and procurement of missiles, attack helicopters and other key platforms will be topping the list of the Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat in his third year as a chief.
Ahead of the Army Day Parade on Jan 15, the chief announced that an Integrated Battle Group (IBG) will be rolled out as a part of an overall plan for further enhancing combat capability of the Indian Army. With infantry element, mechanised element, artillery corps and armoured formations in the IBG which will be tested during war games in May this year.
The Indian Army is also planning to get attack helicopters in the service and talks are going on with the Indian Air Force (IAF) about the ownership of the attack helicopters including the Apache Helicopters.
On Thursday, during the annual press interaction with the media the General said that while the Apache Helicopters which the IAF is getting is a “tank killer”, he added that it needs to be grouped with the army’s strike formations and will provide necessary support for mechanised (tanks, infantry combat vehicles) columns.
As has been reported by the Financial Express ONLINE, the IAF helicopters are coming through the Foreign Military (FMS) route was inked in 2015 worth $3 billion for 22 Boeing AH-64E Apache Longbow attack Helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy-lift machines. There is an inbuilt clause for follow-on orders for 11 more Apaches and seven Chinooks.
The delivery of the helicopters for the IAF will be starting soon and will be completed by 2020. After which as a follow on order the Indian Army will place its requirements for six ‘AH-64E’ Apache helicopters from Boeing Company.
The Indian Army has had several rounds of discussion with the IAF about the attack helicopters as the terrain and the areas the mechanized forces have to cover is difficult and it slows down the forces.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation is working on a rocket and missile to be fitted on board ALH (Advanced Light Helicopter). The Indian Army is looking at `anti-helicopters’– ALH-WSI (Advanced Light Helicopter-Weapon System Integrated which is expected to have a missile for anti-helicopter missions.
The missile and rocket have not cleared the trials as they failed to meet the standards laid down by the Indian Army. According to the Army chief “The DRDO has been told that if the systems don’t meet our standards, and safety parameters, the army will import as a stop gap arrangements. And the research work can go on.”