M A I N   N E W S

Some Himalayan muscle for IAF
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 26
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is formulating new strategies for campaigns in the mountains of the Himalayas along Pakistan and China.

As part of its efforts it has not only finalised plans to purchase new attack and heavy lift utility helicopters in a bid to bolster air surveillance and air to ground fighting capabilities in the Himalayas but has also procured and put sensors on board unmanned aerial vehicles as well as its fixed wing assets.

It has also been training hard on the concepts of waging a battle from stand-off distances and recently also conducted a big aerial war games to validate these new concepts.

Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Air command Air Marshal P.S. Ahluwalia said here today that post Kargil operations war manoeuvres were being undertaken regularly to validate new concepts in precision attacks, waging aerial campaigns from stand off distance for a more effective interdiction in military campaigns in the mountains.

Briefing reports ahead of the Air Force Day in early October, Air Marshal Ahluwalia said in the recent air exercises carried out in the Himalayan mountains nearly 120 to 130 front line fighters of the IAF, including various versions of the MiGs, Sukhois and UAVs, took part in the week-long manoeuvres.

The IAF is celebrating its platinum jubilee this year on the completion of its 75 years.

Our requirement of high altitude attack helicopters and the purchase of more heavy lift and utility helicopters for the mountains had been submitted to the government, the western air commander said.

Though IAF has a few squadrons of Russian acquired MI-25 and MI-35 attack helicopters, these are not suitable for use in the high altitude areas, as a stop gap measure. The Air force has been using the MI-17 helicopters for armed role in the mountains.

Recently, US aerospace major Boeing put on offer its CH-47F Chinook choppers for the IAF. The Chinook is capable of transporting 55 troops or two combat-equipped vehicles and can be used for medical evacuation, humanitarian efforts and fire fighting.

Incidentally, like the Army, the IAF is also proposing to phase out its Chetak and Cheetah range of high altitude helicopters. The Army in a recent deal has finalised plans to purchase 197 new light helicopters.

Air Marshal Ahluwalia said the IAF wanted new helicopters to replace the aging Chetak and Cheetahs with the capability of operating at heights ranging from 18,000 to 19,000 feet.



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