Tuesday, September 19, 2017

India’s chopper fleet to get teeth with air-to-air missiles

The Indian chopper fleet is set to get teeth, with the defence ministry initiating the final process of ordering new missiles for the Rudra. Developers are also planning a live firing of the air-to-air missile on the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) by the year-end.

India presently has two indigenous attack helicopter programs – the Rudra (a weaponised version of the Advanced Light Helicopter) which joined service in 2013, and a LCH that is under development, and set to be in service with both the Army and Air Force. A total of 78 Rudras have been ordered, with 23 of them already in service.

The Rudra is currently armed with only a forward mounted machine gun and rockets, limiting its operational role in the battlefield. The helicopter will now be equipped with new anti-air missiles that will make it capable of taking down enemy choppers and UAVs.

The Indian Air Force—which is the lead agency for integrating these missiles on the Rudra—has called French missile manufacturer MBDA for final cost negotiations to supply the Mistral missile for the fleet.

“The contract negotiation committee will start in a few days. We had to do work on a few items before, which is now complete. We are fully compliant with the chopper,” Loic Piedevache, Country Head (India) of MBDA, said.

Little has been heard about the Rudra fleet in the past few years, but its presence at the Nalia airbase in Gujarat was revealed during Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s recent visit during which she inspected the helicopter.
19/07/17 Manu Pubby/The Print