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Army turns its focus to flying arm, sets up 3 integrated Aviation Brigades amid tensions at LAC

The Aviation Corps will see expansion in the coming months with induction of drones, light combat helicopters, Apache attack choppers & replacements for Cheetah and Chetak helicopters.

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New Delhi: As tensions with China continue to simmer along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Indian Army is focusing on increasing its surveillance and move capability and is in the process of revamping its Aviation Corps, ThePrint has learnt.

Sources in the defence and security establishment said the Army has set up three integrated Aviation Brigades, two of which are along the LAC.

While a new Aviation Brigade has come up under the Eastern Command, as reported by ThePrint last month, two more have been set up under the Northern and the Western Command as part of the new Order of Battle (ORBAT).

“These new Aviation Brigades are part of the rebalancing that the Army has been doing. This ensures that there is a more coordinated and localised control of the aviation assets,” a source explained.

Also, all drones operations have now been moved to the Aviation Corps from the Artillery which used to be in charge of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) as part of the revamp.

These Aviation Brigades have been set up along with integrated surveillance and operations centres that continue to monitor sensitive areas round the clock, not just through the feed sent in by the drones and the helicopters but also the satellites.

Sources said a need was felt to have a more coordinated round-the-clock surveillance capability rather than just boots on the ground.

“Aviation is an integral part of the warfighting process. Better surveillance capability, advance knowledge of enemy movement and faster mobilisation is key to fighting a war,” a second source said.

Multiple forward helicopter bases have been set up along the LAC which enables the force with more options, not just for surveillance but also for troops insertion and movement of logistics.

The Army is also in the process of procuring new-age portable helipads that are user-friendly, ruggedized with scope for modularity.

Also read: HAL choppers get defence ministry nod in bid to replace Cheetah & Chetak, Kamov hangs in balance

Revamp of Army Aviation Corps

As part of its revamp, all drones operated by the Army have been moved to the Aviation Corps from the Artillery.

“Drone warfare is the future. The Army has just ordered for swarm drones, both for logistics and attack. The Army has also ordered kamikaze drones while also buying four new satellite link-enabled long range surveillance drones from Israel. In the future, you will see a large variety of drones being procured by the Army and hence it was important that the Aviation Corps takes care of them rather than the artillery because drone warfare has changed,” the second source said.

Sources said the Aviation Corps will see a huge expansion in the coming months as the force was focusing on induction of light combat helicopters, the Apache attack choppers and replacements for the Cheetah and Chetak helicopters.

“What has happened during the current crisis with China is that the Army is ensuring that all its helicopter squadrons are fully equipped with the sanctioned numbers. So more helicopters have been sent to the critical areas and these include the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and its armed version, the Rudra,” a third source said.

Sources also said the Army has focused on the move capability, transfer of soldiers from one sector to another since the tensions began at the LAC last year.

Deployment of more Rudra helicopters has come as a boon for the Army. This is because the Army can carry out operations in the high altitude regions close to the LAC through Dhruv helicopters with the protective cover of Rudra.

“Our training has focused on heliborne insertion of troops at high altitudes which enables quick transfer of soldiers from one valley to another. We are doing it at our own level as well as with the IAF,” a fourth source said.

(Edited by Neha Mahajan)

Also read: Army turns focus on tech as China looks to test India ‘every fortnight’ at LAC in Eastern sector


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