New Delhi, September 29: In what could be described as one of the most significant pushes for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ policy in the defense sector, the Indian Air Force will place orders with HAL for 156 more Prachand Light Combat Helicopters, which will be deployed by the IAF and the Indian Army on both the China and Pakistan fronts.
After conducting trials in the world’s most harsh weather and terrain, the two services have already enrolled 15 of these choppers into their fleet in the last 15 months.
“The Indian Air Force as the lead service has moved a proposal to the government for buying 156 more Prachand choppers as a joint acquisition case which is likely to get approved soon,” stated top defense officials.
Recently, Indian Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari declared from outside the force’s intention to purchase approximately 100 additional Light Combat Aircraft Mark 1A to promote indigenisation.
In terms of value, the two projects total more than Rs 1.5 lakh crore.
The Indian Air Force would receive 66 of the 156 helicopters, while the Indian Army would receive the remaining 90.
The Prachand has been extensively test-flown by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to meet the Indian Air Force criteria of being a totally Indian designed, developed, and built weapon system.
The attack helicopter was designed to meet the needs of the Indian armed forces, allowing it to operate in both desert and high-altitude environments.
Prachand is the world’s first assault helicopter capable of landing and taking off at a height of 5,000 meters (16,400 feet), making it perfect for use in high-altitude places such as the Siachen glacier and Eastern Ladakh.
It can also launch a variety of air-to-ground and air-to-air missiles and disrupt enemy air defense activities.
It will also be outfitted with updated Dhruvastra air-to-ground missiles capable of destroying enemy hardened shelters at high altitudes as well as other terrain.
The IAF is also purchasing a substantial number of these choppers in order to maintain them ready for export and sale to friendly foreign countries.
The number of these helicopters in service is likely to exceed 300 in order to meet complete military needs, and they are also expected to find buyers in export markets soon.