Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 30
The Indian Army’s attack helicopters are to be equipped with airborne fire control radars that will overcome the operational limitations being imposed by the present systems being used and consequently enhance their combat potential.
This will require a comprehensive upgrade by retrofitting the required hardware and the avionics suite and integrating those with the existing systems and weapons package.
The Army is open to acquisition from indigenous or foreign vendors, sources said.
At present, attack helicopters are equipped only with electro-optical systems and infra-red pods for detecting targets, which have limited operational capability in low visibility conditions or bad weather, sources said.
This, according to an Army Aviation Corps officer, reduces the effective employment of attack helicopters.
The Aviation Corps fleet comprises the indigenous Dhruv as well as the French origin Chetak and Cheetah helicopters. Rudra and Lancer, the weaponised versions of Dhruv and Cheetah, respectively, have also started entering service, while some Chetaks have also been modified to launch anti-tank missiles.
The Light Combat Helicopter developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is undergoing trials and is also expected to be added to the fleet.
Besides battlefield combat support, Army Aviation units are also mandated for combat search and rescue, troop transportation, logistics, communication and medical evacuation.
The Army also relies on the ageing Soviet origin Mi-25/35 gunship for providing close air support to manoeuvring formations, but these are operated by the Air Force.
Similarly, the US made AH-64 Apache attack helicopters that are expected to be inducted shortly, though under the operational control of the Army, will be operated by the Air Force.
The Apache is already equipped with a fire control radar to track multiple targets and guide missiles, giving it a distinct advantage. Such systems are also in vogue with other modern attack helicopters.
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