NEW DELHI --- Beefing up its force levels in the northeast to counter China, the Indian Army is all set to deploy a squadron of weaponised Dhruv advanced light helicopters in Assam’s Likabali town.
This will be the army’s first armed helicopter unit in the region.
India has redoubled its efforts to strengthen its deployments in the eastern sector, with the raising of a new mountain strike corps and stationing of front-line Sukhoi-30 fighter planes. The armed force is also engaged in the reactivation of advanced landing grounds, deploying supersonic cruise missiles and proposed basing of special operations aircraft.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, army sources said the Dhruv Mk-IV squadron with 10 indigenously-built helicopters was likely to be functional in two to three months, as part of an overarching plan to scale up the force’s offensive capabilities in the eastern sector.
There are four weapon stations on the helicopter with a turret gun in its nose area. Weaponised Dhruv helicopters are equipped with air-to-air missiles, 70 mm rockets and 20 mm turret guns.
Newer variants are being equipped with anti-tank guided missiles, infrared jammers and obstacle avoidance systems.
The army’s aviation wing has an armed chopper squadron near Jodhpur and another unit is coming up in one of the northern states.
The army is speeding up a new mountain strike corps whose raising was kicked off in January 2014 in West Bengal’s Panagarh.
Aimed at countering China in the northeast, the government will spend around 40,000 crore rupees on the new corps, 17 Corps, which is likely to be fully operational by 2025.
The corps will be equipped with M777s ultra lightweight howitzers ordered from the United States in November 2016 under a $750-million contract. The contract is for 145 M777s.
Of these, 25 ready-built weapons will be supplied by the United States of America (USA) over the next two years and the remaining 120 howitzers will be produced in the country under the Modi government’s ambitious Make in India initiative.
Manufactured by Britain’s defence and aerospace company, BAE Systems, the guns will be built in India in collaboration with Mahindra Defence. The 155 mm/39-caliber howitzers have been bought to increase the army’s capabilities in high altitude
Last August, India cleared the deployment of a special version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles in the north-east.
Weeks after the Indian government cleared the new BrahMos regiment at a cost of 4,300 crore rupees, China warned that such a move would have “a negative influence” on stability along the border.