Employment Helicopter In The Indian Armed Forces Management Essay

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1st Jan 1970 Management Reference this

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Jointery encapsulates the ways and means by which military forces enhances joint operations, effectively synchronizing the activities of the sea, land and air, invariably as part of a multinational force, each to play to its particular strengths

Joint Doctrine Team, British Joint Services Command and Staff College (JSCSC)

1. Higher Directives. The employment of military assets is based on a higher directive made by the government. The Union War Book is one such document which provides the guidelines in terms of the roles of each service. The overall responsibility for air defence of the country is vested with the IAF as per the Union War Book and applies clearly to the radar network, surface to air systems and fighter tasks thereof [1] . The war book however does not elucidate the envisaged employability of the transport and helicopter fleet towards protecting the sovereignty of the nation. The employment of these assets has been included in the Air Force doctrine and their acquisition thereof is planned on this basis. The transport aircraft are being centrally controlled at the highest possible however the helicopter assets due to their versatility are being controlled at the command and tactical level. This type of control however often leads to a perception of mis/underutilization of these assets by the other services for whom they are frequently tasked. In addition a lack of broad guidelines on the employment of the helicopter assets available with all military and civil agencies has lead to piece meal procurement and ineffective usage especially during times of crisis like disaster relief.

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2. Though the requirement of the IAF as an independent entity has been established in the scope, the role of its helicopter fleet and efficacy in supporting the surface forces as an integral but alien arm has to be studied before any judgment on its ownership can be passed. The army aviation is also actively employed in augmenting the IAF helicopters. In some cases the army aviation has been more effective than their IAF counterparts mostly due to availability and familiarity with the ground operations. Hence the efficacy of the IAF helicopters in support of the ground forces is often questioned. This has led to fierce fanaticism, percolating eventually to the lowest level, as a result of the instinct of guarding ones own turf kicking in [2] . Unfortunately this has not benefitted the joint capacity building of the helicopter fleet of the Indian armed forces. Moreover, the helicopter assets have been distributed to cater for the specific service needs and are employed in their specific roles. The helicopter strength and roles in brief are discussed below for all the three services to .

Indian Air Force

The IAF has close to 340 helicopters of various origin and another 96 (59 M17&V5, 22 AH64D and 15 CH47F) to be procured from outside the country, in addition to the 62 (37 ALH Mk III/IV & 25 LCH) to be the produced indigenously [3] . The older helicopters like the Mi-8 and Chetak are likely to be replaced by contemporary helicopters like the Eurocopter Fennec and Mi-17V5. The Mi-8 is also being replaced for its VVIP role by the Augusta Westland EH101.

These helicopters are being used in support of the surface forces in various roles. The IAF helicopters are being used to regularly in support of the army involved in fighting terrorists in the northern and naxals in the central region. Additionally the IAF assets are also being used to maintain their posts in the inhospitable terrain of the northern and eastern regions. These helicopters carry out peace time and support operations like Casualty Evacuation, Search and Rescue, Route Transport Role, etc, and can also be employed in offensive or war time roles which include Special Heli Borne Operations (SHBO), Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) and Battlefield Air Strikes (BAS) missions.

Indian Army’s Aviation Corp. In 1984, the Indian Army’s Northern Command inducted the HAL Cheetah into the Siachen Glacier. The daredevil pilots were put to the ultimate test professionally and also in terms of human endurance. In 1986, the “Air Observation Post” units were transferred from the Air Force to the Army to form the Army Aviation branch [4] . Thereafter the army aviation assets have seen extensive deployment in mountainous and high altitude terrain for over the crest line observation for reconnaissance by field commanders, direction of artillery fire and speedy move of commanders to the forward posts which are difficult to access, make availability of helicopters a necessity. Speedy casualty evacuation from inaccessible areas, both in war and peace conditions, needed rotary wing effort close by and on call. Hence, a need was felt for a dedicated aviation effort for every Infantry/Mountain Division [5] . The corp operates with approximately 158 helciopters which include the Advance Light Helicopter (ALH) , Chetak and Cheetah Helicopter [6] . The Army now wants one attack helicopter squadron (10-12 choppers) for its three “strike” formations – 1 Corps (Mathura), 2 Corps (Ambala) and 21 Corps ( Bhopal) — in keeping with their primary offensive role. Moreover, it has plans to induct another 114 ‘Rudra’ light combat helicopters for the 10 ‘pivot’ corps [7] . The Army is keen to expand its AAC and is inducting pilots and engineers on a permanent basis into this arm.

Indian Navy Air Arm. The Indian Naval Air Arm, formulated in 1953, is a branch of Indian Navy which is tasked to provide an aircraft carrier based strike capability, fleet air defence, maritime reconnaissance, and anti-submarine warfare. IT operates close to 108 helciopters like the Sea King, Ka-28/31, ALH, Chetak amongst others [8] . These helicopters are stationed in the various Naval Air Bases and positioned on the ships as per requirements. However, not all types of ships in the Indian Navy can operate with these helicopters. While the larger ships like the fleet tankers, destroyers and the frigates are capable of operating all the IN helicopters, the smaller ships like the corvettes and the patrol vessels are limited to operating with the light helicopters like the Chetak or the ALH. On the other hand the Amphibious Warfare Vessels like INS Jalashwa and the Aircraft carriers are capable of operating with heavier helicopters than those currently with the Indian Navy [9] . The Indian Navy also intents to augment its helicopter fleet by bidding for the highly potent NH-90 helicopter which has a multi role and multi mission capability.

4. It is apparent that the air arm of the Army and the Navy are being augmented to cater for service specific requirements. However, this approach has lead to piece meal procurements which lacks the essence of jointry in it. Hence, the hurdles to achieving a truly joint capability will have to be overcome when set against the inevitable financial and resource constraint and the inertia inherent in our single service ethos and training [10] .

CHAPTER III

CURRENT TRAINING STRUCTURE OF HELICOPTER PILOTS

‘Organize as we intend to operate and train as we intend to fight’

– RAF Warfare Centre

1. Joint training of personnel is the most important tool to ensure synergy in functionality and process. Since independence the three services have grown and developed their training infrastructure as per their perceived operational and training requirements. This has in some cases been created at great cost even though the equipment is similar [11] . The “Kargil Committee Report” thus recommended that a study be ordered to look at the optimization of training resources among the three services. As per the committee, a feasibility study of carrying out joint training in those areas common to all three services should have been worked out. However, the committee restricted its recommendations catering for the sensitivities of three services. Hence their assessment was restricted to institutionalized training and ignored the operational joint training aspects. Hence, though the Chetak is the common basic helicopter training aircraft for all three services, they have established different training centers for the basic training of their aircrew. The pros and cons of this kind of set up are discussed below:

Pros.

(i) Service Specific Training and Assessment . Each service has specific and unique requirements from its pilots which guides its training Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s). The navy would expect the pilot to be more comfortable with instrument flying and use of the Radio Altimeter (RADALT) for assessing perspective, while the IAF instructor in the absence of an altimeter, endeavors to inculcate the ‘visual’ flying habits in his trainees. Hence, the assessment criteria would naturally be varied for all the three services. A service specific training centre would therefore be the natural choice, even though the helicopter training aspects between the army and air force could make combined training academy a feasible option, the only difference being that the Army also trains on the Cheetah helicopter.

(ii) Maintenance and Administration. A joint training centre of this nature and size would entail hectic maintenance and administrative activities. With the absence of a joint logistics or training command these aspects are likely to suffer as the distribution of duties to the three services would a moot point due to lack of jurisdiction of a service specific command on the other services. The OEM support however, would be more forthcoming as the Chetak aircraft is overhauled for all the three services by the Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL)

(iii) Irrelevance of Coordination. Since there is no joint training it is obvious that no coordination required between the officer training academies of the three services. Since the existing system of individual training commands is not conducive for joint training, this type of set up is preferred.

Cons. The adverse effects of service specific training is more evident in the later years of service of an individual as an out come of the aspects discussed below.

Lack of Exposure. The pilots though flying the same machine have limited knowledge about the additional roles in which the same helicopter is being employed. This compartmentalization in the formulative years leads to limited understanding of the complete capability of the aircraft. An IAF pilot is not exposed to the challenges of deck landing which could greatly improve his flying skills, the same way a naval pilot would benefit by landing in high altitude helipads.

Restrictions on Op Roles. As an outcome of the lack of exposure and limited knowledge of the helicopter restricts the imagination of the pilots especially as staff appointment which eventually leads to restriction on the roles the aircraft is perceived to be capable of. The restriction on single pilot operations in the (ALH) despite its capability is one such example.

Turf Issues. Since the pilots of the three services flying the same helicopter have neither undergone the same initial level nor advanced operational training they carry misplaced perception an ideas of the others capability. This perception if carried forward into the senior levels leads to turf wars, which has adverse ramifications on the joint capability of the services.

2. Both the army and the naval pilots are volunteers who leave their main steam duties for aviation. The army has recently started inducting officers directly into the AAC due to the increased demand for helicopters. The officers who were sidelined while being the aviation cadre would now are able to progress in their career even as a pilot. The mainstream officers of both the services at times hold prejudices against the aviation branch due to lack of understanding of their functioning. These prejudices do exist even within the IAF nad exhibits itself branch specific and fleet wise. Since the AAC only has helicopters their pilots are trained directly on the Chetak at the Basic Flying Training School (BFTS) Allahabad, Combat Army Aviation Training School (CATS), Nashik and Rotary Wing Academy (RWA), Bangalore. The first being run by the aIAF, the second by the Army and the RWA is a civil flying school run by HAL. The Navy and the Air Force trainees are trificated into the fighter, transport and helicopter stream after the first semester of flying training on the basic trainer. While the naval transport and fighter trainees get trained by the air force, the helicopter pilots proceed along with the Coast Guard trainees, for a six months training to their Helicopter Training School (HTS) at INS Rajali, Arakkonam. The helicopter pilots of IAF undergo stage I training in HTS, Hakimpet, followed by stage II training either at Yelahanka on the Mi- 8 or in HTS itself. Stage III training is carried out at the respective units subsequently, though eventually it will be conducted in a Mi-17V5 training squadron being set up at Air Force Station, Sarsawa.

It is evident therefore that the IAF has dedicated assets and manpower to ensure effective and efficient basic and operational training of its helicopter pilots. This would ensure that a pilot is battle ready when he reaches an operational squadron and the limited effort is spent towards his conversion. However, despite all this effort the joint aspect of operational training is still found wanting. The advantages of initial joint training has been expressed by General Henry Viccellio, US Air Froce, ‘The advantage of inter services initial skill training include lowering costs as redundancies are reduced, downsizing the overall infrastructure, fostering team work and nurturing jointness by exposing students to interservice dialogue early in their careers [12] ‘.

CHAPTER IV

EFFECT OF APACHE ATTACK AND CHINOOK HEAVY LIFT HELICOPTER ON FUTURE INTEGRATED THEATRE BATTLES

‘At higher levels of war, success is mostly a function of planning and apportioning forces and resources to missions’

-Gen Robert .W. RisCassi US Army

The Apache AH-64D and Chinook CH-47F helicopters have been selected through a competitive bidding process as the future attack and heavy lift helicopter respectively to be procured by the IAF. These helicopters have been used extensively during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. It is pertinent to note that these machines have been frequently upgraded since their initial induction to incorporate the latest technological advancement in them. To be able to analyse the effect that these machines would have on the future integrated battle environment we need to know its capabilities in comparison to the such type of helicopters already existing with the IAF. A table comparing the performance data of the Apache with the Mi-35 NPS and the Chinook with the Mi-26T is placed below to provide an insight into their capabilities. The Chinook is a 25 Ton class tandem rotor helicopter and cannot be compared with any other production helicopter as it is the only one of its weight class. However, comparison based on performance can be made to some extent with the 34 ton class CH-53E super Stallion and the 55 ton class Mi-26T, as these fall under the category of Heavy Lift Helicopters (HLH). HLH can be considered as those helicopters capable of lifting more than 10 tons. Though there are other helicopters like the Pave Low and Sea Stallion (both CH-53 variants) which are of 20 ton class, they cannot be considered as heavy lift due to their useful load limit of only 3-5 tons like IAF’s Mi-8/17/17IV/V5. The Apache is a state of the art helicopter with the latest avionics and weapon systems incorporated in it. Though it cannot be compared to the aging Mi-35 Gunship, it is important to assess the quantum jump in combat potential that will be accrued with the induction of the Apache helicopter. These comparisons are generic to the type of helicopter and there would be visible differences between the variants mainly in avionics and weapon systems.

Table 1. Comparison Between Present and Future Heavy Lift and Attack Helicopters of the IAF.

Chinook [13] 

Mi-26T [14] 

Apache [15] 

Mi-35NPS* [16] 

Numbers built – 1,200 (Approx)

Military Operators – 21

Cost – Approx US $ 40 Million

Crew: 3 (pilot, copilot, flight engineer)

Capacity:

33-55 troops or

24 litters and 3 attendants

28,000 lb (12,700 kg) cargo

Length: 30.1 m

Rotor diameter: 18.3 m

Height:  5.7 m

Disc area:  260 m2

Empty weight: 23,400 lb (10,185 kg)

Max. takeoff weight: 50,000 lb (22,680 kg)

Powerplant: 2X3,631 kW

Maximum speed:  315  km/h

Cruise speed:  240 km/h

Range:  741 km (extendable to 1400km with Auxiliary tanks)

Service ceiling: 18,500 ft (5,640 m)

Disc loading:  9.5 lb/ft2  (47 kg/m2)

Numbers built – 320 (Approx)

Military Operators – 13

Cost – Approx US $ 44 Million (T2 Variant)

Crew: Five- 2 pilots, 1 navigator, 1 flight engineer, 1 flight technician (Mi-26T2 also requires 3 crew)

Capacity:

90 troops or 60 stretchers

20,000 kg cargo (44,090 lb)

Length: 40.025 m

Rotor diameter: 32.00m

Height: 8.145 m

Disc area: 804.25 m2 

Empty weight: 28,200 kg (62,170 lb)

Max. takeoff weight: 56,000 kg (123,450 lb)

Powerplant: 2X8,500kW

Maximum speed: 295 km/h

Cruise speed: 255 km/h

Range: 1,920 km (with auxiliary tanks)

Service ceiling: 4,600 m (15,100 ft)

Disc loading: 14.5 lb/ft2

(71.7 kg/m²) 

Numbers built – 1,200 (Approx)

Military Operators – 12

Cost – Approx US $ 20 Million

Crew: 2 (pilot, and co-pilot/gunner)

Length:  17.73 m

Rotor diameter: 14.63 m

Height: 12.7 ft (3.87 m)

Disc area: 168.11 m²

Empty weight: 11,387 lb (5,165 kg)

Max. takeoff weight: 23,000 lb (10,433 kg)

Powerplant: 2X1,490 kW

Maximum speed: 293 km/h

Cruise speed: 265 km/h

Range:  476 km

Service ceiling: 21,000 ft (6,400 m)

Disc loading: 9.80 lb/ft² (47.9 kg/m²)

Numbers built – 2,300 Mi-24 (Approx)

Military Operators – 50

Cost – Approx US $ 20 Million

Crew: 2-3: pilot, weapons system officer and technician (optional)

Capacity: 

8 troops or 4 stretchers

Length: 17.5 m

Rotor diameter: 17.3 m

Height: 6.5 m (21 ft 3 in)

Disc area: 235 m² Empty weight: 8,500 kg (18,740 lb)

Max. takeoff weight: 12,000 kg (26,500 lb)

Powerplant: 2X1,600kW

Maximum speed: 335 km/h

Cruise Speed: 270 km/h

Range: 450 km

Service ceiling: 4,500 m (14,750 ft)

Disc loading: 10.4 lb/ft² (51 kg/m²)

* Specs for Mi-24 of which Mi-35 is a variant with an add on Night Packaging System (NPS)

Table 2. Comparison Between Apache and Mi-35 NPS Armament.

Apache

Mi-35 NPS

Armament

Guns: 1Ã- 30 mm (1.18  in) M230 Chain Gun with 1,200 rounds as part of the Area Weapon Subsystem

Hardpoints: Four pylon stations on the stub wings. Longbows also have a station on each wingtip for an AIM-92 ATAS twin missile pack.

Rockets: Hydra 70 70 mm, and CRV7 70 mm air-to-ground rockets

Missiles: Typically AGM-114 Hellfire  variants; AIM-92 Stinger may also be carried.

Avionics

Lockheed Martin / Northrop Grumman AN/APG-78 Longbow fire-control radar

Armament

Guns 1 x 12.7 mm Yakushev-Borzov Yak-B Gatling gun on most variants. Maximum of 1,470 rounds of ammunition.

Hardpoints: Four pylon stations on the stub wings. Wing-tip pylons can only carry the 9K114 Shturm complex. UPK-23-250 gunpod carrying the GSh-23L can be carried here.

Rockets: B-8V20 a lightweight long tubed helicopter version of the S-8 rocket launcher

and S-24 240 mm rocket

Missiles: 9K114 Shturm in pairs on the outer and wingtip pylons

Avionics

Radio command link for the Shturm missile

Heavy Lift Helicopter Comparisons

The table provides a statistical input on the capabilities of the Chinook in comparison to the Mi-26 wherein its lack in its lift and range capability. However, certain qualitative aspects of flying which are often evaluated by teat pilots world over called Handling Quality Requirements (HQRs), clearly define the limitation of every machine in carrying out a particular task. The Chinook is probably the only helicopter of its class to be able to carryout the ‘pinnacle drop’ of troops and cargo. This is a maneuver wherein the rear wheels of the helicopter are in contact with the ground while the front wheels are in air. It is generally carried out when there is insufficient landing space for the helicopter. The Chinook also has the ‘tandem load’ carrying capacity wherein a heavy load can be picked up as under slung cargo by two Chinooks simultaneously. The Chinook also has the unique triple hook feature enabling it to drop three different load carried underslung to three different locations without landing. Though the Chinook can at best carry only half the weight carried by the Mi-26, it can ensure that this load can be dropped at the most inhospitable terrains without requiring any additional infrastructure. This is why the Chinook is capable of carrying out SHBO operations like Small Team Insertion and Extraction (STIE) and halocasting unlike the Mi-26.

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3. Due to its limited disc loading, the downwash of the Chinook is minimal, giving it the capability to operate from Forward Area Refueling and Rearming Points (FARRPs) in the deserts and from Indian Navy ships like INS Jalashwa. These helicopters are also capable of extracting Special Forces in their rubberized boats from a water body, a maneuver not possible on other helicopters. The tolerance to cross winds due to its tandem rotors provides it immense maneuverability at low speeds and high density altitudes. The Chinook also carries the similar cargo load as the Mi-26 at altitudes in excess of 3 km. With this performance and the ‘pinnacle drop’ capability this helicopter has many promising roles in the mountains in support of the army. The Chinook is a unique helicopter with very well developed Digital Automatic Flight Control System (DAFEX) which makes it very comfortable to handle. Hence the Chinook helicopter can be exploited in more ways than the Mi-26 in varied terrain of the Indian sub continent and along with the Indian Navy ships. The CH-47G version of the Chinook is capable of carrying out Air to Air refueling from a C-130 tanker, however, neither of these have been contracted by the IAF. The ability to extend its ranges with air to air refueling will provide an expeditionary potential to our heli-lift capability and may be considered if the political will and sagacity along with a change in mindset across the national security landscape occurs [17] . The ranges can currently be extended using the Extended Range Fuel Tanks (ERFS) internally. The Chinook can also be air transported on the C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft, soon to be inducted into the IAF, giving the flexibility to deploy these aircraft in far of regions in a short notice.

Attack Helicopter Comparison

4. The Mi-35 was first inducted into active service in the year 1972 as the Mi-24 while the Apache saw active service in 1983as AH-64A. The difference in vintage is evident in the various systems and technological concepts which have been introduced in the Apache. Though the Mi-35 has been upgraded with the Night Package System (NPS) its performance and capability do not match that of the AH-64D. The AH-64D Longbow Apache is a remanufactured and upgraded version of the AH-64A Apache attack helicopter. The primary modifications to the Apache are the addition of a millimeter-wave Fire Control Radar (FCR) target acquisition system, the fire-and-forget Longbow Hellfire air-to-ground missile, updated T700-GE-701C engines, and a fully-integrated cockpit. In addition, the aircraft receives improved survivability, communications, and navigation capabilities. Three Apache helicopters can be transported at any given time in one C-17 Globemaster. The aircraft is also capable of being transported and hangar stored below decks in the landing platform helicopter (LPH) type carrier, Fast SeaLift ships, Roll-on/Roll-off dry cargo ships which provides it the marine capability in comparison to the Mi-35. The Apache with a service ceiling of 6.4 km promises to deliver even in the high altitude trains in the North and the North East sectors.

5. The Apache features a Target Acquisition Designation Sight (TADS) and a Pilot Night Vision Sensor (PNVS) which enables the crew to navigate and conduct precision attacks in day, night and adverse weather conditions. The Apache can carry up to 16 Hellfire laser designated missiles. With a range of over 8000 meters, the Hellfire is used primarily for the destruction of tanks, armored vehicles and other hard material targets like Radars. The AN/APG-78 FCR is a multi-mode Millimeter Wave (MMW) sensor integrated on the Apache Longbow with the antenna and transmitter located above the aircraft main rotor head. It enhances Longbow system capabilities by providing rapid automatic detection, classification, and prioritization of multiple ground and air targets. The radar provides this capability in adverse weather and under battlefield obscurants [18] . This system gives the ‘fire and forget’ capability to the helicopter unlike the Mi-35 wherein the target has to be contacted till the terminal stages of the missile. The ranges of the Apache can be improved using the ERFS externally which is another feature not available in the Mi-35. Ferry ranges upto 1900km can be achieved with this system. The apache 64D longbow is considered as one of the most potent attack helicopters in the world today. Its stand off capability along with its enhanced survivability features and rate of accurate fire would enable it to be used in multiple terrain and swing role missions with relative ease. These machines can also be upgraded to control Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platforms using the onboard communication system and is being tested and developed in the US.

Theatre Battles of the Future

4. It is important for us to understand the nature of future wars so as be prepared to fight from a position of advantage. It is emphasized in all military forums that joint operations are the not an algebraic sum of all the capabilities of different components of military power but a means to achieve exponential growth in combat power. However, each kind of war requires a different treatment which might require a specialized training. There are various factors like International Relations, Economic factors and Human Resources which play an important role in the outcome of any situation [19] . The military must now be ready to project the required level of deterrence or force in required to achieve the ultimate objective set by the political masters in an theatre of battle. There are also military imperatives which that define the limitations in war like Nuclear Weapons and other military factors like political, economical and technological constraints [20] . Hence theatre battles of the future are going to be governed by various factors based on the lessons drawn from wars in the past five decades and these are discussed below and all these point towards an integrated environment.

Nature of Warfare. The Arab-Israeli wars of 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982 were limited highly intense and conventional. It clearly came out form these conflicts that lack of cohesion and synergy would eventually lead to ineffective and sometimes negative utilization of assets towards progress of operation. This was evident in the number of aircraft lost to own fire by the Egyptians in 1973. This was also experienced in the Vietnam War wherein the problems of each service running its own air war in its theatre became evident when the control of the US air effort was disastrously fragmented [21] . The United States made some corrections in the first Gulf War but still lost two attack helicopters due to own fighter aircraft fire. Subsequently, it has laid great emphasis on joint operations and training for any spectrum of war or conflict. Today modern warfare has been characterized by joint expeditionary operations of one or more nations [22] , and if India intends to protect its strategic interests in other countries it requires acquiring such capabilities of its armed forces. Both the Chinook and the Apache have the capability to be used in an expeditionary environment as proved in past conflicts world over.

Technological Changes. Though the Indian armed forces are planning towards being a Capacity based force over a threat based one, it is but impossible to achieve this status without the ability to handle the available technology to suit ones requirement. This is the only economical option for any Indian armed forces for only in crisis do ‘guns tend to outrank fat purses’ [[1] . The war book however does not elucidate the envisaged employability of the transport and helicopter fleet towards protecting the sovereignty of the nation. The employment of these assets has been included in the Air Force doctrine and their acquisition thereof is planned on this basis. The transport aircraft are being centrally controlled at the highest possible however the helicopter assets due to their versatility are being controlled at the command and tactical level. This type of control however often leads to a perception of mis/underutilization of these assets by the other services for whom they are frequently tasked. In addition a lack of broad guidelines on the employment of the helicopter assets available with all military and civil agencies has lead to piece meal procurement and ineffective usage especially during times of crisis like disaster relief.

2. Though the requirement of the IAF as an independent entity has been established in the scope, the role of its helicopter fleet and efficacy in supporting the surface forces as an integral but alien arm has to be studied before any judgment on its ownership can be passed. The army aviation is also actively employed in augmenting the IAF helicopters. In some cases the army aviation has been more effective than their IAF counterparts mostly due to availability and familiarity with the ground operations. Hence the efficacy of the IAF helicopters in support of the ground forces is often questioned. This has led to fierce fanaticism, percolating eventually to the lowest level, as a result of the instinct of guarding ones own turf kicking in [2] . Unfortunately this has not benefitted the joint capacity building of the helicopter fleet of the Indian armed forces. Moreover, the helicopter assets have been distributed to cater for the specific service needs and are employed in their specific roles. The helicopter strength and roles in brief are discussed below for all the three services to .

Indian Air Force

The IAF has close to 340 helicopters of various origin and another 96 (59 M17&V5, 22 AH64D and 15 CH47F) to be procured from outside the country, in addition to the 62 (37 ALH Mk III/IV & 25 LCH) to be the produced indigenously [3] . The older helicopters like the Mi-8 and Chetak are likely to be replaced by contemporary helicopters like the Eurocopter Fennec and Mi-17V5. The Mi-8 is also being replaced for its VVIP role by the Augusta Westland EH101.

These helicopters are being used in support of the surface forces in various roles. The IAF helicopters are being used to regularly in support of the army involved in fighting terrorists in the northern and naxals in the central region. Additionally the IAF assets are also being used to maintain their posts in the inhospitable terrain of the northern and eastern regions. These helicopters carry out peace time and support operations like Casualty Evacuation, Search and Rescue, Route Transport Role, etc, and can also be employed in offensive or war time roles which include Special Heli Borne Operations (SHBO), Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) and Battlefield Air Strikes (BAS) missions.

Indian Army’s Aviation Corp. In 1984, the Indian Army’s Northern Command inducted the HAL Cheetah into the Siachen Glacier. The daredevil pilots were put to the ultimate test professionally and also in terms of human endurance. In 1986, the “Air Observation Post” units were transferred from the Air Force to the Army to form the Army Aviation branch [4] . Thereafter the army aviation assets have seen extensive deployment in mountainous and high altitude terrain for over the crest line observation for reconnaissance by field commanders, direction of artillery fire and speedy move of commanders to the forward posts which are difficult to access, make availability of helicopters a necessity. Speedy casualty evacuation from inaccessible areas, both in war and peace conditions, needed rotary wing effort close by and on call. Hence, a need was felt for a dedicated aviation effort for every Infantry/Mountain Division [5] . The corp operates with approximately 158 helciopters which include the Advance Light Helicopter (ALH) , Chetak and Cheetah Helicopter [6] . The Army now wants one attack helicopter squadron (10-12 choppers) for its three “strike” formations – 1 Corps (Mathura), 2 Corps (Ambala) and 21 Corps ( Bhopal) — in keeping with their primary offensive role. Moreover, it has plans to induct another 114 ‘Rudra’ light combat helicopters for the 10 ‘pivot’ corps [7] . The Army is keen to expand its AAC and is inducting pilots and engineers on a permanent basis into this arm.

Indian Navy Air Arm. The Indian Naval Air Arm, formulated in 1953, is a branch of Indian Navy which is tasked to provide an aircraft carrier based strike capability, fleet air defence, maritime reconnaissance, and anti-submarine warfare. IT operates close to 108 helciopters like the Sea King, Ka-28/31, ALH, Chetak amongst others [8] . These helicopters are stationed in the various Naval Air Bases and positioned on the ships as per requirements. However, not all types of ships in the Indian Navy can operate with these helicopters. While the larger ships like the fleet tankers, destroyers and the frigates are capable of operating all the IN helicopters, the smaller ships like the corvettes and the patrol vessels are limited to operating with the light helicopters like the Chetak or the ALH. On the other hand the Amphibious Warfare Vessels like INS Jalashwa and the Aircraft carriers are capable of operating with heavier helicopters than those currently with the Indian Navy [9] . The Indian Navy also intents to augment its helicopter fleet by bidding for the highly potent NH-90 helicopter which has a multi role and multi mission capability.

4. It is apparent that the air arm of the Army and the Navy are being augmented to cater for service specific requirements. However, this approach has lead to piece meal procurements which lacks the essence of jointry in it. Hence, the hurdles to achieving a truly joint capability will have to be overcome when set against the inevitable financial and resource constraint and the inertia inherent in our single service ethos and training [10] .

CHAPTER III

CURRENT TRAINING STRUCTURE OF HELICOPTER PILOTS

‘Organize as we intend to operate and train as we intend to fight’

– RAF Warfare Centre

1. Joint training of personnel is the most important tool to ensure synergy in functionality and process. Since independence the three services have grown and developed their training infrastructure as per their perceived operational and training requirements. This has in some cases been created at great cost even though the equipment is similar [11] . The “Kargil Committee Report” thus recommended that a study be ordered to look at the optimization of training resources among the three services. As per the committee, a feasibility study of carrying out joint training in those areas common to all three services should have been worked out. However, the committee restricted its recommendations catering for the sensitivities of three services. Hence their assessment was restricted to institutionalized training and ignored the operational joint training aspects. Hence, though the Chetak is the common basic helicopter training aircraft for all three services, they have established different training centers for the basic training of their aircrew. The pros and cons of this kind of set up are discussed below:

Pros.

(i) Service Specific Training and Assessment . Each service has specific and unique requirements from its pilots which guides its training Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s). The navy would expect the pilot to be more comfortable with instrument flying and use of the Radio Altimeter (RADALT) for assessing perspective, while the IAF instructor in the absence of an altimeter, endeavors to inculcate the ‘visual’ flying habits in his trainees. Hence, the assessment criteria would naturally be varied for all the three services. A service specific training centre would therefore be the natural choice, even though the helicopter training aspects between the army and air force could make combined training academy a feasible option, the only difference being that the Army also trains on the Cheetah helicopter.

(ii) Maintenance and Administration. A joint training centre of this nature and size would entail hectic maintenance and administrative activities. With the absence of a joint logistics or training command these aspects are likely to suffer as the distribution of duties to the three services would a moot point due to lack of jurisdiction of a service specific command on the other services. The OEM support however, would be more forthcoming as the Chetak aircraft is overhauled for all the three services by the Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL)

(iii) Irrelevance of Coordination. Since there is no joint training it is obvious that no coordination required between the officer training academies of the three services. Since the existing system of individual training commands is not conducive for joint training, this type of set up is preferred.

Cons. The adverse effects of service specific training is more evident in the later years of service of an individual as an out come of the aspects discussed below.

Lack of Exposure. The pilots though flying the same machine have limited knowledge about the additional roles in which the same helicopter is being employed. This compartmentalization in the formulative years leads to limited understanding of the complete capability of the aircraft. An IAF pilot is not exposed to the challenges of deck landing which could greatly improve his flying skills, the same way a naval pilot would benefit by landing in high altitude helipads.

Restrictions on Op Roles. As an outcome of the lack of exposure and limited knowledge of the helicopter restricts the imagination of the pilots especially as staff appointment which eventually leads to restriction on the roles the aircraft is perceived to be capable of. The restriction on single pilot operations in the (ALH) despite its capability is one such example.

Turf Issues. Since the pilots of the three services flying the same helicopter have neither undergone the same initial level nor advanced operational training they carry misplaced perception an ideas of the others capability. This perception if carried forward into the senior levels leads to turf wars, which has adverse ramifications on the joint capability of the services.

2. Both the army and the naval pilots are volunteers who leave their main steam duties for aviation. The army has recently started inducting officers directly into the AAC due to the increased demand for helicopters. The officers who were sidelined while being the aviation cadre would now are able to progress in their career even as a pilot. The mainstream officers of both the services at times hold prejudices against the aviation branch due to lack of understanding of their functioning. These prejudices do exist even within the IAF nad exhibits itself branch specific and fleet wise. Since the AAC only has helicopters their pilots are trained directly on the Chetak at the Basic Flying Training School (BFTS) Allahabad, Combat Army Aviation Training School (CATS), Nashik and Rotary Wing Academy (RWA), Bangalore. The first being run by the aIAF, the second by the Army and the RWA is a civil flying school run by HAL. The Navy and the Air Force trainees are trificated into the fighter, transport and helicopter stream after the first semester of flying training on the basic trainer. While the naval transport and fighter trainees get trained by the air force, the helicopter pilots proceed along with the Coast Guard trainees, for a six months training to their Helicopter Training School (HTS) at INS Rajali, Arakkonam. The helicopter pilots of IAF undergo stage I training in HTS, Hakimpet, followed by stage II training either at Yelahanka on the Mi- 8 or in HTS itself. Stage III training is carried out at the respective units subsequently, though eventually it will be conducted in a Mi-17V5 training squadron being set up at Air Force Station, Sarsawa.

It is evident therefore that the IAF has dedicated assets and manpower to ensure effective and efficient basic and operational training of its helicopter pilots. This would ensure that a pilot is battle ready when he reaches an operational squadron and the limited effort is spent towards his conversion. However, despite all this effort the joint aspect of operational training is still found wanting. The advantages of initial joint training has been expressed by General Henry Viccellio, US Air Froce, ‘The advantage of inter services initial skill training include lowering costs as redundancies are reduced, downsizing the overall infrastructure, fostering team work and nurturing jointness by exposing students to interservice dialogue early in their careers [12] ‘.

CHAPTER IV

EFFECT OF APACHE ATTACK AND CHINOOK HEAVY LIFT HELICOPTER ON FUTURE INTEGRATED THEATRE BATTLES

‘At higher levels of war, success is mostly a function of planning and apportioning forces and resources to missions’

-Gen Robert .W. RisCassi US Army

The Apache AH-64D and Chinook CH-47F helicopters have been selected through a competitive bidding process as the future attack and heavy lift helicopter respectively to be procured by the IAF. These helicopters have been used extensively during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. It is pertinent to note that these machines have been frequently upgraded since their initial induction to incorporate the latest technological advancement in them. To be able to analyse the effect that these machines would have on the future integrated battle environment we need to know its capabilities in comparison to the such type of helicopters already existing with the IAF. A table comparing the performance data of the Apache with the Mi-35 NPS and the Chinook with the Mi-26T is placed below to provide an insight into their capabilities. The Chinook is a 25 Ton class tandem rotor helicopter and cannot be compared with any other production helicopter as it is the only one of its weight class. However, comparison based on performance can be made to some extent with the 34 ton class CH-53E super Stallion and the 55 ton class Mi-26T, as these fall under the category of Heavy Lift Helicopters (HLH). HLH can be considered as those helicopters capable of lifting more than 10 tons. Though there are other helicopters like the Pave Low and Sea Stallion (both CH-53 variants) which are of 20 ton class, they cannot be considered as heavy lift due to their useful load limit of only 3-5 tons like IAF’s Mi-8/17/17IV/V5. The Apache is a state of the art helicopter with the latest avionics and weapon systems incorporated in it. Though it cannot be compared to the aging Mi-35 Gunship, it is important to assess the quantum jump in combat potential that will be accrued with the induction of the Apache helicopter. These comparisons are generic to the type of helicopter and there would be visible differences between the variants mainly in avionics and weapon systems.

Table 1. Comparison Between Present and Future Heavy Lift and Attack Helicopters of the IAF.

Chinook [13] 

Mi-26T [14] 

Apache [15] 

Mi-35NPS* [16] 

Numbers built – 1,200 (Approx)

Military Operators – 21

Cost – Approx US $ 40 Million

Crew: 3 (pilot, copilot, flight engineer)

Capacity:

33-55 troops or

24 litters and 3 attendants

28,000 lb (12,700 kg) cargo

Length: 30.1 m

Rotor diameter: 18.3 m

Height:  5.7 m

Disc area:  260 m2

Empty weight: 23,400 lb (10,185 kg)

Max. takeoff weight: 50,000 lb (22,680 kg)

Powerplant: 2X3,631 kW

Maximum speed:  315  km/h

Cruise speed:  240 km/h

Range:  741 km (extendable to 1400km with Auxiliary tanks)

Service ceiling: 18,500 ft (5,640 m)

Disc loading:  9.5 lb/ft2  (47 kg/m2)

Numbers built – 320 (Approx)

Military Operators – 13

Cost – Approx US $ 44 Million (T2 Variant)

Crew: Five- 2 pilots, 1 navigator, 1 flight engineer, 1 flight technician (Mi-26T2 also requires 3 crew)

Capacity:

90 troops or 60 stretchers

20,000 kg cargo (44,090 lb)

Length: 40.025 m

Rotor diameter: 32.00m

Height: 8.145 m

Disc area: 804.25 m2 

Empty weight: 28,200 kg (62,170 lb)

Max. takeoff weight: 56,000 kg (123,450 lb)

Powerplant: 2X8,500kW

Maximum speed: 295 km/h

Cruise speed: 255 km/h

Range: 1,920 km (with auxiliary tanks)

Service ceiling: 4,600 m (15,100 ft)

Disc loading: 14.5 lb/ft2

(71.7 kg/m²) 

Numbers built – 1,200 (Approx)

Military Operators – 12

Cost – Approx US $ 20 Million

Crew: 2 (pilot, and co-pilot/gunner)

Length:  17.73 m

Rotor diameter: 14.63 m

Height: 12.7 ft (3.87 m)

Disc area: 168.11 m²

Empty weight: 11,387 lb (5,165 kg)

Max. takeoff weight: 23,000 lb (10,433 kg)

Powerplant: 2X1,490 kW

Maximum speed: 293 km/h

Cruise speed: 265 km/h

Range:  476 km

Service ceiling: 21,000 ft (6,400 m)

Disc loading: 9.80 lb/ft² (47.9 kg/m²)

Numbers built – 2,300 Mi-24 (Approx)

Military Operators – 50

Cost – Approx US $ 20 Million

Crew: 2-3: pilot, weapons system officer and technician (optional)

Capacity: 

8 troops or 4 stretchers

Length: 17.5 m

Rotor diameter: 17.3 m

Height: 6.5 m (21 ft 3 in)

Disc area: 235 m² Empty weight: 8,500 kg (18,740 lb)

Max. takeoff weight: 12,000 kg (26,500 lb)

Powerplant: 2X1,600kW

Maximum speed: 335 km/h

Cruise Speed: 270 km/h

Range: 450 km

Service ceiling: 4,500 m (14,750 ft)

Disc loading: 10.4 lb/ft² (51 kg/m²)

* Specs for Mi-24 of which Mi-35 is a variant with an add on Night Packaging System (NPS)

Table 2. Comparison Between Apache and Mi-35 NPS Armament.

Apache

Mi-35 NPS

Armament

Guns: 1Ã- 30 mm (1.18  in) M230 Chain Gun with 1,200 rounds as part of the Area Weapon Subsystem

Hardpoints: Four pylon stations on the stub wings. Longbows also have a station on each wingtip for an AIM-92 ATAS twin missile pack.

Rockets: Hydra 70 70 mm, and CRV7 70 mm air-to-ground rockets

Missiles: Typically AGM-114 Hellfire  variants; AIM-92 Stinger may also be carried.

Avionics

Lockheed Martin / Northrop Grumman AN/APG-78 Longbow fire-control radar

Armament

Guns 1 x 12.7 mm Yakushev-Borzov Yak-B Gatling gun on most variants. Maximum of 1,470 rounds of ammunition.

Hardpoints: Four pylon stations on the stub wings. Wing-tip pylons can only carry the 9K114 Shturm complex. UPK-23-250 gunpod carrying the GSh-23L can be carried here.

Rockets: B-8V20 a lightweight long tubed helicopter version of the S-8 rocket launcher

and S-24 240 mm rocket

Missiles: 9K114 Shturm in pairs on the outer and wingtip pylons

Avionics

Radio command link for the Shturm missile

Heavy Lift Helicopter Comparisons

The table provides a statistical input on the capabilities of the Chinook in comparison to the Mi-26 wherein its lack in its lift and range capability. However, certain qualitative aspects of flying which are often evaluated by teat pilots world over called Handling Quality Requirements (HQRs), clearly define the limitation of every machine in carrying out a particular task. The Chinook is probably the only helicopter of its class to be able to carryout the ‘pinnacle drop’ of troops and cargo. This is a maneuver wherein the rear wheels of the helicopter are in contact with the ground while the front wheels are in air. It is generally carried out when there is insufficient landing space for the helicopter. The Chinook also has the ‘tandem load’ carrying capacity wherein a heavy load can be picked up as under slung cargo by two Chinooks simultaneously. The Chinook also has the unique triple hook feature enabling it to drop three different load carried underslung to three different locations without landing. Though the Chinook can at best carry only half the weight carried by the Mi-26, it can ensure that this load can be dropped at the most inhospitable terrains without requiring any additional infrastructure. This is why the Chinook is capable of carrying out SHBO operations like Small Team Insertion and Extraction (STIE) and halocasting unlike the Mi-26.

3. Due to its limited disc loading, the downwash of the Chinook is minimal, giving it the capability to operate from Forward Area Refueling and Rearming Points (FARRPs) in the deserts and from Indian Navy ships like INS Jalashwa. These helicopters are also capable of extracting Special Forces in their rubberized boats from a water body, a maneuver not possible on other helicopters. The tolerance to cross winds due to its tandem rotors provides it immense maneuverability at low speeds and high density altitudes. The Chinook also carries the similar cargo load as the Mi-26 at altitudes in excess of 3 km. With this performance and the ‘pinnacle drop’ capability this helicopter has many promising roles in the mountains in support of the army. The Chinook is a unique helicopter with very well developed Digital Automatic Flight Control System (DAFEX) which makes it very comfortable to handle. Hence the Chinook helicopter can be exploited in more ways than the Mi-26 in varied terrain of the Indian sub continent and along with the Indian Navy ships. The CH-47G version of the Chinook is capable of carrying out Air to Air refueling from a C-130 tanker, however, neither of these have been contracted by the IAF. The ability to extend its ranges with air to air refueling will provide an expeditionary potential to our heli-lift capability and may be considered if the political will and sagacity along with a change in mindset across the national security landscape occurs [17] . The ranges can currently be extended using the Extended Range Fuel Tanks (ERFS) internally. The Chinook can also be air transported on the C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft, soon to be inducted into the IAF, giving the flexibility to deploy these aircraft in far of regions in a short notice.

Attack Helicopter Comparison

4. The Mi-35 was first inducted into active service in the year 1972 as the Mi-24 while the Apache saw active service in 1983as AH-64A. The difference in vintage is evident in the various systems and technological concepts which have been introduced in the Apache. Though the Mi-35 has been upgraded with the Night Package System (NPS) its performance and capability do not match that of the AH-64D. The AH-64D Longbow Apache is a remanufactured and upgraded version of the AH-64A Apache attack helicopter. The primary modifications to the Apache are the addition of a millimeter-wave Fire Control Radar (FCR) target acquisition system, the fire-and-forget Longbow Hellfire air-to-ground missile, updated T700-GE-701C engines, and a fully-integrated cockpit. In addition, the aircraft receives improved survivability, communications, and navigation capabilities. Three Apache helicopters can be transported at any given time in one C-17 Globemaster. The aircraft is also capable of being transported and hangar stored below decks in the landing platform helicopter (LPH) type carrier, Fast SeaLift ships, Roll-on/Roll-off dry cargo ships which provides it the marine capability in comparison to the Mi-35. The Apache with a service ceiling of 6.4 km promises to deliver even in the high altitude trains in the North and the North East sectors.

5. The Apache features a Target Acquisition Designation Sight (TADS) and a Pilot Night Vision Sensor (PNVS) which enables the crew to navigate and conduct precision attacks in day, night and adverse weather conditions. The Apache can carry up to 16 Hellfire laser designated missiles. With a range of over 8000 meters, the Hellfire is used primarily for the destruction of tanks, armored vehicles and other hard material targets like Radars. The AN/APG-78 FCR is a multi-mode Millimeter Wave (MMW) sensor integrated on the Apache Longbow with the antenna and transmitter located above the aircraft main rotor head. It enhances Longbow system capabilities by providing rapid automatic detection, classification, and prioritization of multiple ground and air targets. The radar provides this capability in adverse weather and under battlefield obscurants [18] . This system gives the ‘fire and forget’ capability to the helicopter unlike the Mi-35 wherein the target has to be contacted till the terminal stages of the missile. The ranges of the Apache can be improved using the ERFS externally which is another feature not available in the Mi-35. Ferry ranges upto 1900km can be achieved with this system. The apache 64D longbow is considered as one of the most potent attack helicopters in the world today. Its stand off capability along with its enhanced survivability features and rate of accurate fire would enable it to be used in multiple terrain and swing role missions with relative ease. These machines can also be upgraded to control Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platforms using the onboard communication system and is being tested and developed in the US.

Theatre Battles of the Future

4. It is important for us to understand the nature of future wars so as be prepared to fight from a position of advantage. It is emphasized in all military forums that joint operations are the not an algebraic sum of all the capabilities of different components of military power but a means to achieve exponential growth in combat power. However, each kind of war requires a different treatment which might require a specialized training. There are various factors like International Relations, Economic factors and Human Resources which play an important role in the outcome of any situation [19] . The military must now be ready to project the required level of deterrence or force in required to achieve the ultimate objective set by the political masters in an theatre of battle. There are also military imperatives which that define the limitations in war like Nuclear Weapons and other military factors like political, economical and technological constraints [20] . Hence theatre battles of the future are going to be governed by various factors based on the lessons drawn from wars in the past five decades and these are discussed below and all these point towards an integrated environment.

Nature of Warfare. The Arab-Israeli wars of 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982 were limited highly intense and conventional. It clearly came out form these conflicts that lack of cohesion and synergy would eventually lead to ineffective and sometimes negative utilization of assets towards progress of operation. This was evident in the number of aircraft lost to own fire by the Egyptians in 1973. This was also experienced in the Vietnam War wherein the problems of each service running its own air war in its theatre became evident when the control of the US air effort was disastrously fragmented [21] . The United States made some corrections in the first Gulf War but still lost two attack helicopters due to own fighter aircraft fire. Subsequently, it has laid great emphasis on joint operations and training for any spectrum of war or conflict. Today modern warfare has been characterized by joint expeditionary operations of one or more nations [22] , and if India intends to protect its strategic interests in other countries it requires acquiring such capabilities of its armed forces. Both the Chinook and the Apache have the capability to be used in an expeditionary environment as proved in past conflicts world over.

Technological Changes. Though the Indian armed forces are planning towards being a Capacity based force over a threat based one, it is but impossible to achieve this status without the ability to handle the available technology to suit ones requirement. This is the only economical option for any Indian armed forces for only in crisis do ‘guns tend to outrank fat purses’ [ Share this: Facebook Twitter Reddit LinkedIn WhatsApp  

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