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Apache choppers to support Indian Army's operational plans

Apache helicopter

BANGALORE (PTI): New inductions in the IAF such as Apache attack helicopters will be in support of operational plans of the Army, which is raising a new Strike Corps along the borders with China in the northeastern sector, Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne said here on Tuesday.

"Whatever inductions are taking place in the IAF, they will fully support the Army's plans. All the strike helicopters like the Apache...they will all support the Armys plans," he told reporters on the sidelines of a seminar here.

The proposal was first sent by the Army but it was returned by the government which asked the three services to work together on plans to strengthen their capabilities in that region.

"We sent the revised plan to the Defence Ministry in December," Browne said.

The IAF is planning to deploy majority of its new inductions such as the additional C-130 J transport planes and six new midair refueling tanker aircraft at the proposed headquarters of the new Corps in Panagarh in West Bengal to strengthen country’s defence capabilities in that sector, IAF sources said.

The force is also planning to station part of the fleet of 22 Apache helicopters being procured from the US in that sector.

The proposal is awaiting clearance from Defence Ministry's Finance Wing and its cost is being estimated.

Commenting on how the cut of around Rs 12,000 crore in the defence budget was affecting his force, Browne said, "Well we have the 42 Su-30MKI aircraft. The contract (for the additional planes) has to be signed. Payments have to be made for that because the first four aircraft deliveries will take place in March. We have to find money for it."

The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) had signed a deal with Russia for the additional 42 Su-30MKIs in December last year and of these 28 will be produced under licence by HAL in the country and the rest would be built in Russia.

On Defence Research and Development Organisation's proposed Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) project, Browne said it was "too early" to talk about the plane being a fifth-generation one.

"When all requirements are firmed up, then we will see what technologies are possible and what are not possible. Then you put it in that bracket," he said.

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