Indian Army Tests ‘Air Cavalry’ Using Attack Helicopters

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Air Cavalary tested by the Indian Army in Rajasthan (Picture Courtesy: ndtv.com)

The Indian Army has tested the military concept of ‘Air Cavalry’ in the desert terrain of Rajasthan. This concept was used by the US Army to locate and assault enemy ground forces during the Vietnam War.

Weaponised helicopters carry out combined action against the enemy in coordination with tanks and mechanised ground forces during the exercise to enhance its defence capabilities. The Indian Army is looking forward to procure attack helicopters to strengthen its combat air assets.   The concept of launching air attack in coordination with tanks will reshape the way the Indian Army will suppress the enemy attack.

The concept of ‘Air Cavalry’ was tried by the South Western command during recently concluded exercise ‘Vijay Prahar’. Detailed deliberation, sand-model discussions and war gaming were held before carrying out the concept.

In normal battle scenario, attack helicopters are called in only when required by the land forces to repulse the enemy attack if they found it difficult due to difficult terrain or for any other reason. Under the ‘Air Cavalry’ concept, attack helicopters are by default integrated with tanks and mechanised ground forces.

Apart from performing attack role, a fleet of armed helicopters usually carries out troop insertion in forward areas and performing on the spot aerial reconnaissance. The forces achieve more flexibility and fluidity, which enhance their combat capabilities. Under this concept, attack helicopters can hit targets efficiently in the shortest possible time. ‘Air Cavalry’ can be executed in different kind of terrains depending upon the feasibility.

As the Army is inducting helicopters equipped with ultra-modern sensors and high-precision weapons which will give a great boost to the Air Cavalry concept for protecting both eastern and western borders of the country.

The attack helicopters will be used as force multiplier and will increase the potency of ground forces to engage the targets, defence sources said. The concept will be crucial in the land battles in desert along the western front as well as in the eastern front where the terrain is mountainous.

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Apache Helicopter (Picture Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is developing Light Combat Helicopter for the Army which can operate at high altitude. The Defence Ministry in August last year had approved the procurement of the army’s first fleet of Boeing’s six most advanced Apache helicopters. According to PTI, The ministry is purchasing these attack helicopters along with weapons systems at a cost of Rs 4,168 crore.

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Indian Air Force to Call Off Deal to Procure 20 Hawk Jets

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A defence deal to buy 20 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer planes is likely to be called off by the Air Force. The main reason for scrapping the deal is that the price to buy these advance trainer jets are like to cost more than Rs 2,000 crore, which is beyond the expectations of the defence ministry. The negotiations for the deal have been stuck for almost three years, and now the prices are further hiked by the vendors.

The Air Force is also not showing any interest in upgrading the fleet of over 120 Hawk planes. These planes were inducted into service after a deal with Britain in 2004. The Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) is offering to upgrade the Hawk fleet of the Air Force to Hawk India jets by adding combat capabilities, reported Mail Today, citing government sources.

According to the report, the sources said, “”The benchmark price of each aircraft was around Rs 90 crore but the initial price offered by the vendors including the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was more than double.” They further told Mail Today,  “In the contract negotiations, the vendors have cut down the price but even now, the price offered is more than 60 per cent of what the defence ministry is willing to pay for the planes.”

The government also wants the forces should utilize the budget in the best possible way to enhance its fighting capabilities. According to the sources, the Hawk fighter jets are newly inducted and the last Hawk batch was inducted just three years ago, so there is no need to upgrade the fleet. The Indian Force proposed to buy 20 Hawk planes from a British firm during the UPA government. It wanted to replace the Kiran MK2 with the Hawk Advanced Fighter Jets to be equipped with smoking pots to fly with Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT), reported The Mail Today.

In 2010 the contract for the last batch of 57 planes was done between India and the British firm with the aim to enhance training programmes of the Air Force and the Navy. India had procured the fleet of 66 Hawk jets in 2004.

LCA Tejas Test Fires Derby Missile Off Goa Coast; Moves Inch Closer Towards Final Operational Certification

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Picture Courtesy: PTI/File

In a major breakthrough, indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas has successfully test fired an air-to-air beyond visual  range (BVR) missile from the Goa coast on April, 27.  It demonstrated its overall capability as an effective combat jet. This move has paved the way to receive Final Operational Clearance (FOC). The test firing of the missile from a Tejas jet was carried out on April 27 off the Goa coast and it met all operational requirements. Earlier, Tejas was given clearance for deployment of armaments and other missiles, reported PTI, quoting defence ministry officials.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) had ordered the first batch of 40 Tejas Mark-1 version. The Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) is to make four major upgrades in Mark-1 version and incorporated into the second batch of 83 Tejas fighter jets, for which a request for proposal (RFP) was issued to HAL by the IAF in December last year. This new batch will be of LCA Tejas Mark 1A version. The total cost of these 83 jets will be around Rs 50,000 crore.

The successful launch of the BVR missile will expedite issuance of the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) to the aircraft. LCA Tejas is developed by state-run aerospace organisation Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The Defence Ministry in an official statement said, “The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) successfully fired Derby air-to-air BVR Range missile to expand the firing envelope as well as to demonstrate safe operation of the aircraft.” According to the press release, the missile was launched from the LCA piloted by Wing Commander Siddharth Singh yesterday from the firing range off the Goa coast after exhaustive study of the missile separation characteristics.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman appreciated the DRDO and other agencies for developing Tejas, a world-class aircraft. DRDO Chairman S Christopher confirmed that with this firing, the Tejas had moved an inch closer towards FOC certification. According to the ministry, integration of Derby, a BVR class missile, is one of the major objectives of Final Operational Clearance of LCA Tejas. Two other Tejas aircraft tracked the aircraft which fired derby to capture the firing event in the specially instrumented high speed cameras for detailed analysis of the test launch of the missile. The entire planning, practice sorties and final firing was carried out by ADA and its National Flight Test Centre (NFTC). According to PTI, the ministry confirmed that based on the successful integration and demonstration, Regional Centre for Military Airworthiness (RCMA), a unit of DRDO had cleared the series production aircraft of squadron 45, to be equipped with Derby operational capability.

 

Indigenous Built LCA-Tejas Performed Well During The ‘Gagan-Shakti 2018’

 

The major positive to take away from the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) biggest war-like exercise, ‘Gagan-Shakti 2018′ is the performance of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas. The indigenously-manufactured (LCA) Tejas was put to test by the IAF in the 14-day long exercise. The aircraft performed as per the requirement of the force.

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LCA-Tejas in action during Gagan-Shakti 2018 (Picture Courtesy:Twitter/@IAF_MCC)

The major positive to take away from the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) biggest war-like exercise, ‘Gagan-Shakti 2018‘ is the performance of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas. The indigenously-manufactured (LCA) Tejas was put to test by the IAF in the 14-day long exercise. The aircraft performed as per the requirement of the force.

An IAF official who was involved in the exercise said, “We did trials and validation of operational efficiency of LCA Tejas. We were able to generate six sorties per platform per day. In this exercise, we had deployed eight platforms.” According to the official, on the very first day of the exercise, six Tejas aircraft reported ‘snag’, but the air force rectified it immediately. The ‘Gagan-Shakti’ started on April 8 and concluded on April 21.

The Officials associated with the exercise performed satisfaction regarding the performance of Tejas, but, they are worried about the slow production rate of the aircraft. LCA Tejas is a supersonic, single seat, single jet, multi-role light fighter designed by Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL). It has been under development since 1983. The LCA Tejas was inducted into ‘Flying Daggers’ 45 Squadron of the IAF on July 1, 2016. It is to replace the ageing Mig-21. In December 2017, Defence Acquisition Council had cleared procurement of 83 LCA Tejas Mark 1A.

At present, two contracts have been signed between IAF and HAL for the LCA one for the procurement of 20 Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) standard aircraft and another for 20 Final Operational Clearance (FOC) standard aircraft. Till now only eight Tejas aircraft are in operation in the force. HAL is expected to provide rest 12 (IOC) aircraft this year. These 40 aircraft (20 IOC and 20 FOC) will be Tejas mark 1. HAL is also working on four major upgrades which it will incorporate in the manufacturing of the next 83 fighter jets out of which 10 are trainer aircraft. These aircraft will be Tejas Mark 1A.

Earlier this month the IAF has issued a Request for Information (RFI) for acquiring 110 fighter jets to strengthen its fighter capabilities. Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Block 70, Saab’s Gripen E, Boeing’s F/A 18 Super Hornet and Dassault Aviation’s Rafale are the major contenders for $15 billion deal. Currently, The Indian Air Force is facing the shortage of fighter jets as age-old Migs are about to retire over the next few years. If HAL could provide LCA Tejas on time, then it would definitely help the Indian Air Force to plug in the required gap.

The ‘Gagan-Shakti 2018’ was organised with the aim to counter twin attack by China and Pakistan along western and northern border. Entire fleet strength of the force was put to test under war-like situation. LCA Tejas finally met the requirement of the Indin Air Force.