‘Rudra’ choppers

Indian Army to Deploy Armed Helos with Rudra Ready for Induction

The Indian Army is preparing to induct and deploy armed helicopters in its key formations facing Pakistan and China, with the indigenously developed ‘Rudra’ choppers being readied for Initial Operational Clearance (IOC).

Rudra, a Weapon System Integrated version of the indigenous Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters, is expected to obtain the IOC from the Bangalore-based Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) by this month end, providing a boost to the Indian defence industry.

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The Indian public sector plane manufacturer, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, is preparing the Rudra for the IOC and will be responsible for the certification.

The Indian Army is hoping to raise the first squadron of the Rudra by March 2013 and deploy it with one of the three strike corps — the Mathura-based 1 Corps, Ambala-based 2 Corps and Bhopal-based 21 Corps. The army has already ordered for 60 Rudra to raise six squadrons of 10 helicopters each.

The final aim is to provide each of its 13 Corps (3 strike and 10 pivot) with at least one squadron of the armed helicopters, sources said here.

The Indian Army’s Corps will have an integral Aviation Brigades, which will in turn have a squadron each of utility, armed and reconnaissance helicopters.

While the existing fleet of Cheetah, Chetak light utility and Dhruv helicopters will continue to perform their surveillance and cargo roles, Rudra’s will be the aerial fire power that the army would get soon.

HAL is manufacturing a total of 76 Rudra, of which 60 will get the army and the rest 16 to the Indian Air Force. Rudra is armed with 20mm turret-fitted gun, 70mm rocket, anti-tank guided missile and air-to-air missiles, as part of its fire power inventory.

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While the first two Rudra squadrons of the army will be fitted with imported anti-tank guided missiles and air-to-air missiles, the army hopes to have indigenously developed missiles for the helicopters in the future.

Rudra, a Mk3 version of the Dhruv, will be powered by the Shakti engines, an Indo-French collaborative effort between HAL and Turbomeca. This powerful engine will help Rudra to fly at 20,000-feet altitude thus making it suitable to fly over the icy heights of the Himalayas overlooking the Pakistani and Chinese borders.

Rudras will be tasked by the army to provide its ground troops close air support and protection. It will take on enemy targets in a battlefield scenario like the battle tanks and artillery battery.

The twin-engine helicopter, with a two-pilot crew, has also integrated sensors and electronic warfare suite such as the infra-red imaging, day and night cameras and a laser ranging and designation device, apart from radar and laser tracking warning systems. It is also fitted with counter measures such as the chaff and flare dispenser. All its weapons and systems are pilot-operated.

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Raja Raja Cholan
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Trainer & Mentor for aspirants preparing for civil service examination

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