What Army Aviation Should look Like in the Coming Years
Colonel Awadhesh Kumar
The Army is working on a 10-year modernization plan for its Aviation Corps.It must aim to induct one Aviation Brigade into each of its 14x fighting Corps.
However the Aviation Brigade for the holding Corps and the strike Corps must vary a bit. The holding Corps should have an Aviation Brigade comprising 1x Light Recce & utility Squadron, 1x Light Support Squadron and 1x Light Combat Helicopter Squadron. Then each Division of these holding Corps should have an aviation Squadron comprising1x Flight of Light Recce& Utility Squadron and 1x flights of recce drones. This translates into:
- 10 x Light R& U Squadron + 30 x R& U Flights ie 300 helicopters of KA 226 variety
- 10 x Light Support Squadrons i.e 120 helicopters of Dhruv variety
- 10 x Light Combat Squadrons i.e 120 of Rudra variety
The Aviation Brigades of 4 x Strike Corps should comprise 2 x Light Support Squadron, 2 x Light Combat Squadron. This translates into :
- 8 x Light Support Squadrons ie 96 helicopters of Dhruv variety
- 8 x Light Combat Squadrons ie 96 helicopters of LCH variety
At Operational HQ Command level there should be a Aviation Brigade for each Command with 1 x Light R&U Squadron, 1 x Light Support Squadron and 1 x Medium Combat Helicopter. This will translate into :
- 6 x Light R&U Squadrons i.e 72 helicopters of KA226 variety
- 6 x Light Support Squadrons i.e 72 of Dhruv Variety.
- 6 x Medium Combat Helicopters i.e 72 of Appache variety
So need arises to have around 372 + Light Recce helicopters of Ka 226 type alone. The number of Light Support helicopter of Dhruv variety will be around 288+ and light combat helicopters (Rudra + LCH ) will number over 216. The Medium support helicopters will number around 72+.
Thus the Army must plan to induct two kinds of utility/LSP choppers and three types of combat helicopters. This will include squadrons of Rudra (the armed version of the Advanced Light Helicopter ‘Dhruv’), which will have 20mm guns and 70mm cannons, the LCH squadrons and the Appache.
The Aviation Corps currently operates Chetak and Cheetah choppers, the ALH Dhruv since 2001, and its armed variant Rudra since 2013.
Each squadron of the Aviation Corps should have two ‘flights’ each plus one technical flight. Each ‘flight’ to have six helicopters aircraft each. However, in the current scenario, all squadrons have only two ‘flights’ of five aircraft each.
The Aviation Brigades would be a game-changer in future conflicts.
“More emphasis is being put on prioritisation, rationalisation and economy of expenditure. Greater value for money will be achieved by encouraging procurements from indigenous sources in support of the government’s Make in India initiative.
The transfer of the RPAS to the Aviation Corps would ensure a comprehensive surveillance picture, utilising both manned and unmanned platforms, while sharing support infrastructure. Thus tasks of recce, observation, close air Support, casualty evacuation, close logistic support etc will get coordinated and executed in a much better manner.
The operation of these assets under the common umbrella of Army Aviation Corps and a common aviation adviser to the ground forces commander will help achieve battlefield transparency.
The medium support helicopters ( MI 17 type) for the Army tasks @ 3 x squadron per Command + @1 × MSP per IAF / IDS commands for associated tasks, 1 x flight of Rudra per Wing for base protection and 6 x HSP ( Chinook / MI 26 type) squadrons to be operated by IAF.
SF rotary assets to be operated by IAF, Navy and Army Aviation operating under the SF Special Purpose Division.