Indian Navy is operating many of its warships without helicopters on board
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Seriously Lacking

Indian Navy is operating many of its warships without helicopters on board

Lt Gen. B.S. Pawar (retd) Lt Gen. B.S. Pawar (retd)

Throughout most of the 20th century, India’s naval priorities were essentially focussed on containing Pakistan and securing the maritime approaches to Indian territorial waters – this kept India’s naval outlook confined to its own waters.

However, India’s economic growth since the Nineties, growing domestic interests and desire to be a major power finally led the navy to expand its outlook to the wider Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and today it is even looking at the Asia-Pacific, given the developments in that region, thus aspiring to be a truly blue water navy.

Accordingly, the navy’s long-term maritime capabilities perspective plan has identified a mix of two major roles for the force; one the traditional blue water capability and two to effectively counter threats closer to the coast. Considering the expanse of the Indian maritime area of interest in the IOR, providing maritime security by carrying out 24x7 Information, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) is an enormous task.

Hence, in this entire maritime strategy the navy’s Fleet Air Arm is expected to play a very significant role — in fact the centrepiece of navy’s modernisation scheme revolves around the acquisition of aircraft carriers along with state-of-the-art aircraft including helicopters and UAVs to operate from them to ensure 24x7 ISR in the Indian Ocean. While progress has been made in the acquisition of an aircraft carrier Vikramaditya and its associated platforms like the MiG-29K and state-of-the-art ISR platform like the P8I Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance - Anti Submarine Aircraft (MR ASW), there has been virtually no movement on the Helicopter front. The result is that the fourth largest navy in the world is operating majority of its warships without the critical component of helicopters on board, a major operational void.

Ka-28 helicopters of the Indian Navy

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