Combat choppers : The Tribune India

2022-10-08 17:46:13 By : Mr. Bruce Zhao

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Updated At: Oct 04, 2022 07:26 AM (IST)

THE induction of the first fleet of the indigenously-built Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) into the Indian Air Force is a major step forward for 'Make in India' in the defence sector. - File photo

THE induction of the first fleet of the indigenously-built Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) into the Indian Air Force is a major step forward for ‘Make in India’ in the defence sector. The four 5.8-tonne twin-engine gunship choppers — armed with air-to-air missiles, 20-mm turret guns, rocket systems and other weapons — have been developed mainly for mountain warfare by the state-run aerospace and defence major Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The helicopters are expected to bolster India’s air power as they are capable of carrying out strikes on the enemy’s infantry, tanks, bunkers, drones etc. in high-altitude areas, besides being well equipped for counter-insurgency operations.

The welcome addition of LCHs to the IAF inventory comes a month after the commissioning of India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant. In June, the Coast Guard had commissioned the indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter MK-III’s squadron. These are good tidings for India’s defence industry, which is not only becoming less import-dependent but also making its presence felt in the international arena. The government claimed recently that defence exports had grown by 334 per cent in the past five years, with India now exporting to over 75 countries. It is heartening that several countries have evinced interest in the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft, including Malaysia, Argentina, Australia, Egypt, the US, Indonesia and Philippines.

The policy initiatives undertaken in recent years to spur indigenous design, development and manufacture of defence equipment are bearing fruit. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Defence had identified 18 major platforms for industry-led design and development. A big challenge for the domestic defence industry is to develop cost-effective technology that meets global standards. Indigenisation should also facilitate and fast-track defence modernisation. The country can move closer towards achieving self-reliance in the defence sector if the government ensures hassle-free procurement from domestic sources. The ‘Make in India’ push can pave the way for ‘Make for the World’ through adequate allocation and timely disbursal of funds for R&D as well as production. At the same time, it’s imperative to make international players abide by the fine-tuned offset policy by insisting on investments and transfer of technology for defence manufacturing. 

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