New Delhi: The last one decade has seen some major inductions in the Indian military, which has given it a huge strategic heft — be it in its capability to transport heavy equipment and troops from one location to the other or for dealing a punitive blow to the enemy.
ThePrint takes a look at seven major inductions by the armed forces that helped shape the combat abilities of the three services — the Air Force, the Navy and the Army.
C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 J Super Hercules
The induction of the Lockheed Martin’s C-130 J Super Hercules in 2011 and the Boeing manufactured C-17 Globemaster III changed the entire dynamics of the strategic lift capability of the Indian Air Force.
The acquisition has given the force the ability to carry out larger transport missions, and be able to drop equipment and soldiers to even at multiple advanced landing grounds.
The four-engine turboprop C-130J can be used for troop deployment, special operations, air-to-air refuelling, disaster relief and humanitarian aid operations as well.
The aircraft can carry out precision low-level flying, airdrops, and landing in blackout conditions.
The C-17, on the other hand, provides tremendous flexibility in terms of operational response options in any future campaign. The long range, heavy lift capability will allow the commanders to induct troops, squadrons, re-locate forces as well as shift forces between theatres rapidly.
Speaking at the induction ceremony in 2013, then Defence Minister A.K. Antony had said, “With this, the IAF has taken a giant stride towards its goal of acquiring multi-spectrum strategic capabilities, essential to safeguard India’s growing areas of interest”.
Chinook and Apache
The induction of the heavy lift helicopter Chinook and the pure attack chopper Apache this year has brought about the much-needed punch to the military that was missing for very long.
Chinook is a multi-role, vertical-lift platform, which is used for the transport of troops, artillery, equipment and fuel. It is also used for humanitarian and disaster-relief operations, in missions such as transportation of relief supplies and mass evacuation of refugees.
The Chinooks have the capability to airlift the M-777 lightweight howitzers that the Indian Army is inducting. This means these artillery guns, the majority of which will be deployed along the northern borders facing China, can be taken from one position to another using the helicopter, even if it is inhospitable terrain.
Along with the Chinook, the IAF inducted the game-changing Apache helicopters, one of the deadliest attack choppers, which come equipped with a cannon, rockets and missiles.
The Apache is the first pure attack helicopter in India’s possession.
India has been operating Russian Mi-35, which will now be upgraded. These are classified as ‘assault’ choppers as the Mi-35s were designed to carry troops into heavily-defended territories.
But the Apache is an out-and-out attack helicopter, and IAF sources said it will be a game-changer.
The induction of India’s first indigenous submarine INS Arihant in 2016 has been one of the biggest for the armed forces in the last one decade. With this induction, India has completed the nuclear triad.
Stressing the significance of the successful deployment of INS Arihant for the completion of India’s nuclear triad, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in 2018 congratulated the crew and all those involved in the achieving the feat, which puts India among a handful of countries having the capability to design, construct and operate SSBNs.
P8I (Poseidon Eight India)
The induction of the Boeing P8I (Poseidon Eight India) Long Range Maritime Patrol and anti-submarine warfare capable aircraft in 2013 has brought about huge jump in the deterrence and attack capability of the Indian Navy.
The P-8I aircraft is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon aircraft that Boeing developed as a replacement for the US Navy’s ageing P-3 fleet.
Navy became the first international customer for the P-8 aircraft with the conclusion of the nearly US $2.1 billion contract on 1 January 2009 for a total of eight aircraft.
The P-8I aircraft is equipped for long range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of broad area, maritime and littoral operations.
Its communication and sensor suite include indigenous equipment developed by defence PSUs and private manufacturers.
With its high speed and high endurance of about 10 hours, the aircraft is capable of thrusting a punitive response and maintaining a watch over India’s immediate and extended areas of interest.
The 2013 induction of the INS Vikramaditya, a modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier, has added to the strategic power of the Navy.
An aircraft carrier carrying potent long range multi-role fighters — MiG 29K — is a platform inherently designed for power projection.
Vikramaditya’s floating airfield has an overall length of about 284 meters and a maximum beam of about 60 meters, stretching as much as three football fields put together.
Standing about 20 storeys tall from keel to the highest point, the 44,500 tonnes mega structure of steel has a total of 22 decks.
With over 1,600 personnel on board, Vikramaditya is literally a ‘Floating City’. Associated with this large population is a mammoth logistics requirement — nearly a lakh of eggs, 20,000 litres of milk and 16 tonnes of rice per month.
With her complete stock of provisions, she is capable of sustaining herself at sea for a period of about 45 days.
The ship has the ability to carry over 30 aircraft comprising an assortment of MiG 29K/Sea Harrier, Kamov 31, Kamov 28, Sea King, ALH-Dhruv and Chetak helicopters.
The MiG 29K swing role fighter is the main offensive platform and provides a quantum jump for the Indian Navy’s maritime strike capability.