HomeIndian DefenceIndian Air Force to embrace indigenous platforms over more Apaches and Chinooks

Indian Air Force to embrace indigenous platforms over more Apaches and Chinooks

Source : IgMp Bureau

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is orchestrating a monumental shift in its helicopter procurement strategy, placing emphasis on domestic production and affordability while steering away from additional imports. In a decisive move, the IAF has confirmed its decision to abstain from acquiring more Apache attack helicopters, favoring the locally-manufactured LCH Prachand. This shift in focus extends to heavy-lift helicopters, with reports suggesting the IAF is scrapping plans for additional purchases of the renowned Boeing CH-47F(I) Chinook.

Indian Air Force to embrace indigenous platforms over more Apaches and Chinooks

Indian Air Force to embrace indigenous platforms over more Apaches and Chinooks
Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (Left) and Light Combat Helicopter Prachand (Right) designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited

Prioritizing Indigenous Development and Cost Optimization

The decision to forego additional Chinooks, despite their commendable capabilities, is grounded in the IAF’s commitment to supporting indigenous development and optimizing costs. The IAF’s acquisition of 15 Chinooks in 2020 prompted a reevaluation due to the high operating costs and potential dependence on foreign suppliers for maintenance.

Induction of Boeing Chinook CH 47 FI helicopters in Indian Air Force
Indian Air Force CH-47 Chinook Helicopters

Betting on HAL’s Vision: The Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH)

Instead, the IAF is placing its confidence in the HAL-proposed Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH), a more compact and cost-effective alternative designed for various tasks, including troop and cargo transport, combat search and rescue, and disaster relief. Although the IMRH has a lower maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) compared to the Chinook, its reduced acquisition and operational costs make it a more enticing choice for the IAF’s long-term requirements.

An Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH) scale model showcased by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)

Reviving Mi-26 Fleet and Indigenous Alternatives

In addition to the IMRH, the IAF is revitalizing its fleet of Russian-supplied Mi-26 heavy-lift helicopters, grounded for over five years. These formidable giants, boasting an even greater MTOW capacity, will undergo overhauls in Russia and are slated to return to service in 2024. This serves as a temporary solution for the IAF’s heavy-lift needs while the development of the IMRH progresses.

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An Indian Air Force Mi-26 Heavy Lift Helicopter (Fie Photo)

LCH Prachand Over American Apache

Highlighting the significance of indigenous platforms, the IAF is opting for LCH Prachand, ALH Rudra, and an attack variant of IMRH instead of pursuing additional Apache AH-64 attack choppers from Boeing. Earlier plans included acquiring another 15 Chinooks and 22 more Apaches under the 2nd lot, but renewed interests in indigenous solutions have significantly reduced the likelihood of further Apache and Chinook acquisitions.

Apache helicopter 1685343135930 1685343145971
An Indian Air Force AH-64 Apache Helicopter (File Photo)

Strategic Emphasis on Indigenization and Cost-Efficiency

This strategic shift mirrors the IAF’s growing emphasis on indigenization and cost-effectiveness. By prioritizing projects like LCH Prachand and IMRH, the IAF is strategically diminishing dependence on foreign suppliers, augmenting operational flexibility, and ensuring long-term sustainability. While the decision to forgo additional Chinooks may prompt questions about the IAF’s long-term heavy-lift capabilities, it’s evident that the driving force behind this strategic shift is the IAF’s unwavering commitment to domestic programs and fiscal prudence.

an lch prachand helicopter of the indian air force with the v0 4bxko04h1cda1
An Indian Air Force Light Combat Helicopter Prachand (File Photo)

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