Indian Army lacks striking chopper power

Indian Army’s ‘hot pursuit’ in the jungles of Indo-Myanmar border last year and then the September 29 surgical strikes on terror launch-pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir could have been more lethal, if Special Forces commandoes were given required support from its helicopter fleet.

In the absence of a secure and reliable air-ground communication system, the Army has not been able to utilise its helicopter fleet for anti-terror operations or surgical strike-type scenarios.

These startling observations came out after a review of the Army’s lethality during surgical strike-type operations. According to an internal note prepared by the Army’s Directorate of Aviation for improving communication between helicopters and ground troops, it was noted that “due to air mobility of the helicopter, the communication is extremely unreliable and unsecure”.

The Army has a fleet of nearly 500 helicopters, including light utility Cheetah and Chetak, and the newly-inducted Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv.

“Surgical operations like infiltration or exfiltration of Special Forces teams from enemy territory, induction of pathfinder teams into a territory and casualty evacuation operations require the pilot to be aware of the exact location of own troops.”

But army’s biggest worry is its communication system that has failed to support its ground troops in any anti-terror operations.

Army jawans in action ::

An Army report states that helicopters operate in very high frequency or ultra high frequency bands, and ground troops also operate on very high frequency band.

Air-ground communication is extremely difficult on high frequency band, as the band spectrum is preoccupied with air-to-air communication, the report states, adding that if air-ground communication is further added to it, it will lead to congestion which will be ‘detrimental to flying operations’. During recent cross-border actions, copters were used to ferry troops to a certain distance and then they entered enemy territories on foot.

Poor air-ground communication has also led to chances of pilots inadvertently crossing over to enemy side. A few years ago, an Indian Cheetah helicopter strayed into Pakistani territory. The chopper was forced to land there and Pakistan air force’s fighter jets and crew were detained.






Source:- New Indian Express

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