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Army wants its own ‘mini Air Force’

Army

New Delhi: The Army has now strongly revived its old quest for a “mini air force” of its own, in a move that has been bitterly opposed by the IAF in the past.

The force wants three squadrons of heavy-duty attack helicopters, among other choppers, for its three primary “strike” corps geared for rapid armoured thrusts into enemy territory.

For starters, the 1.3-million strong Army is seeking the government’s approval for acquisition of 11 Apache attack helicopters from the US as “a follow-on contract” to the earlier Rs 13,952 crore deal inked for 22 such choppers for the IAF.

The Army is in a hurry because the “50% repeat order option”, with the same terms and conditions, can be exercised only till September 28 since the original contract was inked on that date in 2015.

The Army’s long-term plans include three helicopter squadrons (armed/attack, reconnaissance and tactical lift) each for all its 14 corps as well as “a flight” of five fixed-wing aircraft each for its six regional or operational commands.

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