India Strategic|October 2019
NEW DELHI. The Apache and Chinook are dream-machines for all helicopter pilots, incorporating the latest in technology and concepts in warfighting and conflict-management across the spectrum. The triad of Apache, Chinook and C-17s promise a capability to deploy special forces and action anywhere, even across the borders, where Indian interests are at stake. These are machines that can stretch ‘jointness” to ‘truly integrated’ responses.
Here are some thoughts on what these aircraft have done in the past, and can do in the future.
Today’s warfighting is about networking in a secure redundant communication environment with other capabilities in every domain. The Boeing AH-64E Apache’s open architecture allows future plug-ins that Indian armed forces decide to adopt. With modern high-capacity data links and network capabilities, it is already ahead of its time.
Multi-domain operations across a spectrum that stretches from Hybrid Warfare to low-intensity security situations within the country require capabilities that are responsive and adaptive. As the Israelis have demonstrated, it can be quickly reconfigured from an anti-armour role to taking out terrorist leaders with precision and stealth even during nights. In 2011, NATO used it in the littoral domain operating from naval ships as well.The Apache’s array of weaponry and self-protection suites allows it to engage at stand-off ranges in all terrains – deserts, jungles, urban settings, and most importantly, mountains where India’s future conflicts would most likely be.
Lessons learnt in employment of Apaches in Afghanistan have allowed modifications in equipment and tactics to be effective at varying altitudes. The recent Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns have highlighted the unique capabilities helicopters have contributed to the asymmetric environment, the aim being the need to develop flexible, adaptable, welltrained, well-equipped, deployable and sustainable expeditionary forces.
These forces require an adaptable, comprehensive command structures that can integrate and work effectively with a range of other actors, using a comprehensive approach to deal with challenges and threats across the spectrum of conflict.
Helicopters are critical for operations because they allow rapid transport of combat troops over the rugged terrain without leaving them vulnerable to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), which are the deadliest threat to soldiers on ground.
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