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Monday August 19, 2019

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Maximising Security Helicopter Command

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The dynamics of transportation, both military and civilian, have undergone a sea-change since rotary-wing vehicles, known as helicopters, made their debut at around the middle of World War II. More and more helicopters are being used both for direct aerial combat as well as for transportation of men and material propelled by an increasing density of road traffic; congestion at existing airfields, and, as in the case with India, where road transportation is stymied by the difficulties of road and bridge construction in the high Himalayan battlefields. At rapid pace, the feasibility (and necessity) of using unmanned drone rotary winged vehicles from the very heavy lift to miniscule eyes-in-the-sky surveillance platforms is being demonstrated.

This edition of DSA is dedicated to this very important machine which is to play a very vital role in the Indian military arsenal in the years to come given that it is about to be inducted in the hundreds. India is at the tipping point of ending the use of superannuated platforms like the Cheetah and Chetak workhorses and is preparing to induct the modern versions.

Primarily, helicopters are more widely used by the defence forces in India than in the civil arena. The role of helicopters is multi-dimensional and though it is under the total control of the military services, it is the Services that operate the helicopters in the many humanitarian and disaster relief operations given the seasonal depredations that visit the nation cyclically.

There is a growing demand for helicopters, both manned and drones, from not just the armed forces but also the large number of paramilitary / Central Armed Police Forces. The time is appropriate to resurrect a concept that was intended to optimise the use of military assets even while creating a commonality quotient that will improve national security in a holistic manner.

It is acknowledged that each Service has a peculiar requirement dictated by the element in which it operates (the naval versions in particular). Yet, there is scope for creating a common pool of facilities for planning acquisitions in a manner in which the multiplicity of types of helicopters does not become a logistical nightmare. Similarly, a commonality in training and logistics facilities could improve the cost-effectiveness of the entire fleet. One thing is amply clear that the business of building helicopters (we have the indigenously designed and developed Dhruv helicopter and its armed version, the Rudra) will soon have enough orders at hand to make investments in plant and machinery an attractive long-term prospect.

A Helicopter Command mandated to produce a list of contenders ofr acquisition within a short time-frame should have representatives of all end users so that all requirements are assessed and collated on the basis of common features. On the basis of htis list, common training and maintenance and repair facilities can be envisaged and created .This Helicopter Command will also be mandated to strengthen the indigenous research and development infrastructure as well as expanding the involvement of the private sector medium and small scale manufacturers for spare parts and ancillaries.

The core feature of the suggested Helicopter Command is the creation of an ecosystem that will reduce costly multiplicity and at the same time, set up the infrastructure for a self-sustaining helicopter industry that will cater to both the military and the civilian sectors.

I am sure if the Helicopter Command is created, it will be a gerat value addition to the defence and security forces. This edition, dear reader, is one of its own kind to know and understand the importance of helicopters in national security which has been visualised by our esteemed contributors.

Jai Hind!


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