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Army wants its own 'mini Air Force', pitches for heavy-duty attack helicopters

Discussion in 'Indian Army' started by lca-fan, May 20, 2017.

  1. Luttapi

    Luttapi 2nd Lieutant FULL MEMBER

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    The 2nd prototype of LUH with safran HE flew at Bangalore. It is a single engine 3 tonne light utility helicopter. 1053708563.jpg
     
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  2. MilSpec

    MilSpec Mod Staff Member MODERATOR

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    I actually do not mind Both Airforce and the Army, having their own fleet of attack Helicopters.

    I also would like to have the Navy to expand it's own air arm. Air force's both upgrades and new acquisitions have been marred with multitude of issues. letting Navy and Army have it's specialized fleet will not harm IAF in any way as per my opinion.

    If Army brass had some creative thinking, it should have placed blanket orders on LCH and Rudra, and continue systemic development of the platform. Local platform would be cheaper to deploy, develop and procure for the Indian Army without placing a Large order. It can exercise a Deal to procure 20 Helis for the next 5 to 6 years and still end up with a fleet bigger than IAF.
     
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  3. Fox

    Fox Supreme Overlord FULL MEMBER

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    What's the rational against either transferring operational command of attack and transport helos to the IA or standing up its own helicopter units? It's money isn't it? The IAF being reluctant to let go of both money and control? If so that's the same problem the US had during its early years as a nuclear power when the USN and USAF argued about the necessity of missiles versus bombers versus submarines. One side wanted to retain control of operations better suited to another branch. In the end they both ended up acquiring access to a strategic deterrent. Likewise the IAF has a need for helicopters , but so does the IA and their requirements will differ to the point that it's better to allocate capabilities to one branch over the other.

    Transferring control allow the IA to begin tailoring helicopter tactics and operations to its unique requirements, otherwise it's reliant on increased synergy, which is never a bad thing, but isn't easy to flesh out. All major militaries still have problems with this - China, the US, France, UK, Russia - it's not easy to get synergy right.

    Even smaller militaries who can't afford or don't need dedicated Army helicopter units and rely on their cohesion to make things work are still tinkering and trying to get everyone on the same page at all times.

    [​IMG]

    Cohesion and synergy are hard to enact for small forces. Larger ones have it much worse. Standing up a helicopter force for the IA and retaining part for the IAF (transport, SAR, electronic warfare, etc) allows both sides to tweak and rework their doctrine and tactics and modernize and streamline operations to be more inline with their own priorities and capabilities. Then, once they have their foundation can they work to come together and fight as an integrated and seemless force.
     
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  4. Abingdonboy

    Abingdonboy Major Technical Analyst

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    It's not quite about the IA standing up it's own helo units.

    The IA already has its own helicopter force (Army Aviation Corps, AAC) but until now it has only operated light observation/utility helos like the Chetak ( Aérospatiale Alouette III) and Cheetah ( Aérospatiale SA 315B )

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    As well as a modest (but growing) fleet of light-medium utility helicopters (ALH)

    [​IMG]

    Now the IA/AAC wants to take the next step and operate more sophisticated equipment ie attack helicopters.Traditionally the IAF has operated attack helicopters (Mi-25s) but they have been under the operational control of the IA, now the IA wants their own attack helo fleet fully owned and operated by them.


    The first step was the LCH and Rudra (ALH WSI/Mk.4)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    the IA and IAF both have placed orders for them (around 110 and 80, 75 and 65 respectively)


    [​IMG]
    (^ IAF Rudras)


    But now the focus has turned to the Apache (that will be replacing the Mi-25s) which the IAF has already got a contract for 22 units (to be in service from 2019). The Apaches represent the greatest point of contention between the two forces, during contract negotiations (by IAF) the IA had been asking the MoD to allow them to have the 22 Apaches instead of the IAF but the MoD maintained they would go to the IAF and seperately sanctioned the IA to raise 3 (39 units total) Apache SQNs (1 each for the IA's strike corps). For this 39, 11 units will come as part of the follow-on clause for the IAF's 22 unit AH-64E order- which means, IMHO, that the IAF will not be ordering (or allowed to that is) anymore Apaches and the to get the remaining 28 units a new contract will have to be intiated but this time by the IA themselves.

    The MoD has failed to take any leadership and is instead placating both sides by giving both their "toys". Personally, I feel that the IA and IAF having very large and simiarly composed attack helicopter fleets is a horrific duplication of efforts and the circus is replicated in the RSH/LUH catergory; 600 units will be split (almost equally) between the two services, what purpose the IAF has for 300 LUH/RSH I have no idea.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    In the future the same absurdity will be seen in the 10-12 ton MRH class, both the IA and IAF will be operating 100s of medium class transport helos in the same weight class each and frankly beyond this I wouldn't be surprised to see the IA asking for a Chinook fleet of their own in the next decade to operate in parallel to the IAF's Chinook fleet.

    Frankly this all comes down to the IAF and their fixation on wanting to control everything that flies, they really need to be made to justify their demands as this situation is not only wasteful but it is counter-productive to the national interest.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2017
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  5. Abingdonboy

    Abingdonboy Major Technical Analyst

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    IA will be operating significantly more LCH and Rudra than the IAF, it has commited to 114 LCH to the IAF's 75 and >110 Rudra to the IAF's 65. On top of that I've heard the IA are interested in around 260 LCH long term. By 2030-5 I can see the IA's helo fleet being larger than the IAF's by quite some margin.
     
  6. Bloom 17

    Bloom 17 2nd Lieutant FULL MEMBER

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    @Abingdonboy how many Rudra's are in service or on order? I thought it was also rejected because of engine problems
     
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  7. Abingdonboy

    Abingdonboy Major Technical Analyst

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    It hasn't been rejected by anyone, it is in service with both the IA and IAF as of now (pictures above are of operational Rudras), the IA has orders for >80 units and the IAF for 65 units, around 30 Rudras have been handed over to the services so far.
     
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  8. Bloom 17

    Bloom 17 2nd Lieutant FULL MEMBER

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    @Abingdonboy are these being use in Kashmir for in counterinsurgency operations ? For what role is the army really planning on using them ?
     
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  9. Hellfire

    Hellfire Devil's Advocate Staff Member MODERATOR

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    We already have combat aviation units with Rudras in Strike Corps now.

    No.

    We do not use Helicopter Gunships in CI/CT Operations in Kashmir. We only use Cheetahs in R&O (Recce & Observation) mode in Valley. We have Lancers there (armed Cheetahs) and reportedly it was involved once or twice in thickly forested uninhabited area of LC, otherwise they are also not used, neither are required.
     
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  10. Hellfire

    Hellfire Devil's Advocate Staff Member MODERATOR

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    Beats the logic.

    Frequently it has been found that the CAS requested has been provided after assets have been freed up elsewhere.

    IAF is being redesigned into an Aerospace Command. Their role is being cleanly demarcated to dominate both the airspace (enemy's) and eliminate space based weapons.

    CAS will only be possible in IAF's case if it is able to free up it's assets from these primary tasks. What are the chances of that in a hot war/two front war?

    What is required, and what is being envisaged, is the integration of the aviation brigades at the Corps level to be able to provide rotary wing based CAS to the IA units on demand. In a fluidic battle scenario, it will be a nightmare if IA has to wait for IAF to 'free' it's assets (already dwindling) which may, otherwise, be engaged elsewhere to deny enemy the use of it's own airspace.

    I shall give you the example of the mess services make at times. Earlier in 1970s, even Army's Medical Corps had officers in General Cadre pool and they made Colonels in same service bracket as Infantry. Then, one AMC top officer of the time, wanting to become a Lt Gen, decided that AMC must have it's own 'cadre'.

    In comes the directive that AFMS will have it's own DG of the rank of Lt Gen. The pyramid became very steep and soon, an AMC officer was becoming a Colonel much later (6 to 8 years) later than an Infantry Officer. Even till date, an Infantry officer becomes a Colonel in 15 years of service, but an AMC officer 22-24 years. Only now this is being addressed.

    My point in this analogy is, that IAF is trying to protect the number of officers' vacancies it has. It has a fear that if Attack Helicopters are given to IA, then soon it shall convert to Mi-17s and IAF's C-130 (primarily brought for Special Operations) C-17s may also follow, a flawed logic.

    Army must be given the Attack helicopters of it's own, I have not two views on it. And Air Force must retain the control of Mi-17s and the aircrafts - they are strategic assets meant for other roles too.

    The aviation brigade concept at Corps level is a sane and sensible idea which should reach it's logical conclusion. This will allow for 01 x LCH, 01 x Rudra/Heavy attack helicopter and 01 x Cheetah/LUH/ALH based unit for transport and MEDEVAC operations, required especially in high mobility warfare.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2017
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  11. Hellfire

    Hellfire Devil's Advocate Staff Member MODERATOR

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    What of it? The Soviets have, historically, emphasised the Tactical Integration of the air assets. This was primarily due to their appreciation of their war fought against the Germans in World War 2. The large swathes of Soviet Territory with widely interspersed population centres resulted in the Soviet Air facing a situation of difficulty in command and control and requiring a cohesive effort at the time with ground forces, resulting in them to be reasonably 'independent' of the centralised control and operationally under the control of the ground forces of the particular area to enhance the effectiveness of the air effort.

    At the beginning of WW-2 Soviet Air Force was largely divided as under:

    1. Long Range Air Force of the High Command (this was found to be less utilised as the war progressed as USSR mainly had to employ their Air Force in tactical roles throughout the war, unlike the US and UK, which employed their Air Forces in strategic strikes into Germany all through the war.)

    2. Air Force of each military district consisting of fighter divisions and short-range bomber divisions.

    3. Air Force component of each land army consisting of composite divisions of fighter, bomber, and ground attack regiments.

    4. Military service air force made up of communications (liaison) squadrons assigned to infantry and mechanized corps commanders.

    5. Naval Air Service


    As you can see from the above, the tactical air units were split between the air force of each military district and the air force component of each land army. Air units were subordinate to ground commanders at a fairly low level. Soviet writings indicate that this arrangement resulted in fragmented, uncoordinated employment of air power that proved to be less than satisfactory in providing the necessary concentration of firepower during the course of war.

    So they evolved into the concept of Tactical Air Army.

    This was due to the concept of 'Front' being brought out. This envisaged the operational control of all assets within that zone by the "Front" Commander.

    Here you will find the similarity in concept to what is now being called the Indian "Integrated Battle Group", thus my retort of Indians re-inventing the wheel every time (my lament, especially after US took out a 'COIN' Doctrine and relied on Indian experiences, and India took out it's CI/CT Doctrine only after US had already done it:hitwall:)

    A front was, typically, 300-500 km wide and included the operational control over the Ground Troops as also the air elements in it. The Tactical Air Army at the time had mix of fighters, transports and bombers and could be concentrated by the 'Front' Air Commander for better results.

    As the war progressed additional organisational changes were made or rather I should say, evolution took place.

    Fighter units were assigned exclusively to the air defence forces (Air Superiority role), which operated independently of Front organisations (but in tandem); the communications squadrons of the Military Service Air Force were absorbed by other units; and an airborne force was organised. With these changes the Soviet air forces were divided into the six following component air forces by the war's end.

    1. The Army Air Force of the Soviet Army (organised as the Tactical Air Armies assigned to Fronts).

    2. The Naval Air Force.

    3. The long-range bomber force.

    4. The interceptor fighter force of the air defence force.

    5. The airborne troops.

    6. The civil air fleet.

    Throughout the war, Soviet organisational doctrine was to have tactical air forces organised into air armies that were assigned to Front commanders. These air armies received their orders from the Front commander, but individual units were normally under the direction of air force commanders. This, of course, resulted in better integration and execution of offensive operations.


    In Afghanistan it required better integration of it's efforts. It did exactly this. At the time, Air Force was composed of these components:

    1. Frontal Aviation (for support of ground troops)
    2. Long Range Aviation (Intercontinental/Long & Medium Range Bombers)
    3. Military Transport Aviation.
    4. Fighter Aviation of Air Defence Services (Protivo Vozdushnaya Oborona). (component of National Air Defence Services; different set up)
    5. Naval Aviation (component of Navy)

    USSR had 16 Military Districts and 04 Groups (in East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary). The Frontal Aviation in these districts was under direct control of the District/Group Commander. (We can say the Theatre Commander in Indian concept or even US concept).

    They had control over what was termed and continued as the Tactical Air Army arising from the Frontal Aviation, yet again under control of Air Commander under Command of a 'Front' Commander. The point to be noted is that the Soviet Philosophy allowed for flexibility in the 'Front' which was to arise from these Districts/Groups. It could be solitary or a combination of 2 or more.

    The Long Range Aviation remained under the direct Control of the 'High Command'/ Air Force.
    The short lines of communication by establishment of the Frontal Aviation (resulting in Tactical Air Army) allowed for flexibility of deployment of air assets by the Soviet General 'Front Commander' and even the Division Commanders at times.

    Pertinent to note, US equivalence is, perhaps, in the Tactical Air Command.

    To free the fixed wing aircrafts of FA (or Tactical Air Army) and in consonance with Soviet Doctrine of attacking what they call the TVD or Театр военных действий (ТВД) (depth operations), the revival of Army Aviation (Aviatsiya Sukhoputnykh Voysk - ASV, or Armeyskaya Aviatsiya - Army Aviation) occurred in Soviet structure (in 1960s?), under which all Attack Helicopters were transferred to Ground Forces exclusively for command and control (as opposed to the Air Commander).

    The Russians have simply shifted their assets as per the requirement. Once their operations in Afghanistan and later Chechnya wound down, in 2003 the same was again reverted to the Air Force.

    In short, a flexibility exists in their system. However, in our case, the IAF is unwilling to allow for either a flexibility or downright transfer of attack helicopters to the primary and secondary user - the Army.
     
  12. Abingdonboy

    Abingdonboy Major Technical Analyst

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    What @Hellfire said- they won't be used in CT/CI enviroments, that is not part of the COIN doctrine of India, for 3 decades the Mi-25s have been in service with the IAF but not once used inside Indian borders (for combat missions).


    The LCH/Rudra/Apache are for anti-tank missions primarily or to be used against entrenched positions ie conventional warfare.
     
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