The Indian Air Force (IAF) is the rotary wing pioneer in Asia, operating helicopters in climatic conditions that are unheard of for many other air arms around the world. The IAF’s transport helicopters are the lifeline for the Indian Army (IA) at high altitudes and new generation armed and attack helicopters that are being inducted (or will join soon) will offer a quantum leap in offensive capability.
Over past decades, the IAF rotary wing fleet was built on the back of rugged Russian built helicopters but the retirement of the Mi-8 fleet and impending phase- out of the Mi-25/ Mi-35 and Mi-26 helicopters will mean that the IAF’s rotorcraft fleet in the early 2020’s, would comprise of Medium Lift Helicopters - Mi-17, Mi-17 1V, Mi17 V5; Light Helicopters – Hindustan
Aeronautics Limited (HAL) built ALH MKI, ALH MK-III, ALH-MKIV (weaponised), Kamov Ka-226T ‘Sergei’, HAL Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) and the venerable Cheetah, Cheetal and Chetaks; Heavylift Helicopters - Boeing CH-47I ‘Chinook’; and Attack Helicopters - HAL Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and Boeing AH64E ‘Apache’. The next decade will also see a large number of indigenously designed and developed helicopters, signifying the success of Indian rotary wing ambitions which got underway in the mid-eighties.
New Fighting Helicopter
Two major rotorcraft inductions for the IAF start next year, when Boe