IAF says 'No' to Army's bid to control attack helicopters

The IAF today said it has rejected Army's demand to have their own attack and medium-lift helicopters contending that the country can't afford to have these "little air forces" growing up to do their "own things".

The Army has been demanding the control over attack and medium-lift helicopters saying they are mainly used for supporting its operations and that is why should be under it.

The IAF operates two squadrons of Russian-origin Mi-35/25 attack choppers and is in the process of acquiring another one from the US in near future.

"Last year in May, when the previous Army Chief was there, the IAF had made an offer that it was willing to let them have their own attack helicopters but that was not accepted as they wanted medium-lift helicopter also for which we said no," Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne told reporters here.

He was asked about Army's demand for control over attack helicopters.

The IAF chief said the world over, there was integration between the armed forces over the use of assets though these were controlled by separate wings and that "was the way of future".

"We have no major objection except for the fact that this integration model around the world is working.... We can't have these little air forces growing and doing there own things. Tomorrow if the Coast Guard asks for submarines, will we give them submarines from the Navy," he asked.

Browne said Government of India in 1986 under Services integration rules had said medium-lift and attack helicopters would be with the IAF and that arrangement "is the one which is and will continue to remain valid."

The IAF chief said attack choppers had a dual role and were used not just for destroying tanks but also for taking down enemy aircraft, helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

He said the fleet of medium-lift helicopters including the Mi-17 choppers "is and will continue to remain under the command and control of the IAF."

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