Army to deploy first LCH squadron in Missamari near LAC by end of October

Team India Sentinels Thursday 6th of October 2022 10:04 AM

Two HAL-made LCHs during a drill. (File photo)

New Delhi: The Indian Army is going to move its first squadron of light combat helicopters from Bengaluru to Assam’s Missamari Army station, near Tezpur, by the end of October. The Army raised the squadron – 351 Army Aviation Squadron – of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited-made LCH in Bengaluru, in July this year. The 351 Army Aviation Squadron will operate under the Army’s Missamari Aviation Brigade.

So far, the Army has received three LCHs in Bengaluru from HAL. It is expected to receive the fourth one at the end of this month and the fifth one in November.

The Missamari Army station is strategically located near the line of actual control with China in the eastern sector. Bum-la, the nearest LAC outpost, is about 150 kilometres from the station, as the crow flies. With the current tension between India and China along the LAC, especially the ongoing stand-off between the Indian Army and China’s People’s Liberation Army in eastern Ladakh, the deployment of these combat choppers in Missamari is seen as a significant move.

The 5.8-tonne choppers would be laced with anti-tank guided missile Helina and air-to-air defence missile system. However, it won’t be the Indian Air Force LCH’s Mistral 2. The LCH would be effective for anti-infantry and anti-armour helicopter operations.

In March this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-headed Cabinet Committee on Security had given approval for the procurement of 15 indigenously developed LCH at a cost of ₹3,887 crore along with infrastructure sanctions worth ₹377 crore.

Out of 15, 10 have been meant for the Indian Air Force and five for the Army.

Meanwhile, the Indian Army is planning for another 95 and IAF for 65 such choppers.

Missamari Aviation Brigade

In March 2021, the Indian Army had raised the new Missamari Aviation Brigade to strengthen its response to any crisis in the eastern sector as well as its firepower. It is the third Army aviation brigade after the Jodhpur Aviation Brigade in the western sector and the Leh Aviation Brigade in the northern sector. The brigade operates units of utility choppers Cheetah and advanced light helicopter Dhruv, weaponized ALH Rudra, and Heron Mk1 drone.

In the last few years, the Army and the Air Force have significantly enhanced their defence capabilities and firepower in the eastern sector, which spans from Sikkim to Arunachal Pradesh, as part of India’s efforts to match China’s build-up and infrastructure development on its side of the LAC. Apart from building up military capabilities, India is currently developing critical infrastructure, like strategic roads, bridges, and tunnels at a rapid pace in the sector, where India and China share the 1,346km LAC.

Currently, the Army operates with around 145 indigenous ALHs, 75 of which are the Rudra weaponized variants. Another 25 ALH Mk-III are on order and are expected to be commissioned within the next two years.


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