by Edelbert Badwar

Far from the media glare on high profile defence deals like fighter jets and warship acquisitions, a quiet revolution is taking place in India’s aviation sector.Slowly but steadily major developments are taking place in India’s military helicopter landscape.This has happened without the usual fanfare that accompanies success in sectors like space and nuclear submarines.India ‘s military helicopter arm is witnessing a huge transformation.This transformation in terms of indigenisation,capability and sheer numbers have been achieved through a dual policy of home grown R & D and foreign purchases.

Since the success of the Dhruv helicopter, its story has been replicated multiple times. Here are some of the recent milestones reached in indigenous helicopter development.

  • Series production of the light Combat Helicopter begins with 15 units for the Army and Air Force.
  • Weaponised Dhruv (Rudra) Attack helicopter inducted into service.
  • Test flight of the Light Utility helicopter

Apart for the home grown wares ,several deadly foreign machines will now find their way into the the Indian inventory.

  • Acquisition of 46 more units of the versatile Mi-17 V-5
  • Induction of 22+6 Apache helicopters for the Air Force and Army
  • Contract for the supply of 200 Ka-226T helicopters from Russia to be finalized soon
  • 15 Chinooks to be inducted

Some Notable Helicopter Deals

Homegrown Development

  • Light Combat Helicopter - No. of Units 15

Direct Purchase

  • Apache 22+6 United States
  • Chinook 15 United States
  • Mi17-V-5 46 Russia

Local Assembly

  • Ka-226T 200+ Russia

Even in terms of sheer numbers ,very few countries can beat the massive Indian helicopter acquisition program. Add to it the stellar success in indigenisation, especially in the light helicopter category and we can claim to be a helicopter superpower.Decades of research have come to fruition.

This success can be replicated in the civilian sector as well. The move by HAL to transfer know-how for a civilian version of Dhruv is a step in the right direction. Furthermore,research should proceed apace. The Indian Multi Role Helicopter project is a case in point and we should see it take to the sky not many summers from now.

Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IDN. IDN does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same