The Growth Of The Indian Army’s Helicopter Inventory

The Army Aviation Corps (AAC) of the Indian Army (IA) is just shy of being three decades old. In that period, it has probably become the busiest corps in the IA having to serve in a variety of terrain supporting a whole gamut of operations.

AAC is particularly crucial to maintaining India’s dominance in the Siachen Glacier and supporting small unit operations in mountainous terrain. Given that brief, the AAC is always looking to increase the number of helicopters with high altitude capability in its inventory whether it be for reconnaissance and surveillance(RS) roles utility roles, heli-borne insertion or attack.

These varied requirements have served as a peg for the evolution of indigenous helicopter capability in India that is both capable of high altitude operations as well as a mix of roles and will form the bulk of AAC’s inventory in the future alongside domestically produced Russian designs given the discussions during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s December 2014 visit to India.

AAC of course doesn’t only focus on the mountains and given the IA’s extensive plans to increase helicopter holdings for its overall strike and pivot corps, AAC’s significantly growing inventory may also see the addition of heavy attack helicopters (AHs).

End October 2014 saw the issuance of a request for information (RFI) for RS helicopters for AAC for a third time in just over a decade. This new tender is being advanced under the ‘buy and make’ category and is in keeping with the Modi government’s decision to have the long running RS helicopter procurement met through domestic companies with foreign collaboration under a ‘make in India’ scheme.


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