Sunday, November 4, 2012

Inter-service dispute clouds Indian Apache buy

Issue- Nov 2012

Neelam Mathews

A battle is brewing in the Indian military over who will get the first consignment of the 22 AH-64D Apache attack helicopters ordered by the Indian Air Force (IAF). The dispute comes in light of a recent directive, despite opposition from the IAF, which will permit the Indian Army to procure and operate its own attack
helicopters in future.
‘At this point, the fundamental decision is taken. Whether it will be single or twin ownership needs to be worked out and is a matter of detail. The army, now, has a larger role in prioritisation and tasking,’ army spokesman Col Jagdeep Dahiya told Defence Helicopter on 17 October.
The army requires around 16 attack helicopters and ‘a roadmap to absorb capability, including training and logistics as per the army’s modernisation plan’, has been worked out.However, the IAF remains unforgiving.
‘Yes, Apache is final now,’ IAF Chief ACM NAK Browne said. ‘We are going to contract for Apache and these will be paid for by the IAF, flown by the IAF and maintained by the IAF.’

The Apaches will be fitted with Hellfire and Stinger missiles to give the force ‘the capability to strike down enemy helicopters and UAVs, providing support to ground troops’.
The Indian Army operates around 250 light helicopters – attack and medium-lift types have until now been the IAF’s sole preserve. However, the army has drawn up plans for its aviation corps that include a mix
of reconnaissance, utility, tactical support and armed attack helicopters.
‘We have no major objection except for the fact that the integration model around the world is working… We can’t have these little air forces growing and doing their own things. Tomorrow, if the coast guard asks for submarines, will we give them submarines from the navy?’ queried Browne.‘The force needs to understand it is the synergy of all resources that are essential to achieve the final objective. Such scraps are
not warranted,’ said an industry official on condition of anonymity.
By Neelam Mathews, New Delhi

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