Defence Ministry overrules IAF, allows Army to have own attack choppers



New Delhi: Overruling stiff opposition by the Air Force, Government has allowed the Army to have its own attack helicopter units, meeting its long-time demand.

The Defence Ministry has also decided that all future acquisitions of attack helicopters will be made for the Army while the IAF can retain its two squadrons of Mi-35 attack helicopters along with the soon-to-be-procured 22 Apache choppers.

"We have received a letter from the Defence Ministry and we have been given the attack helicopters by the government," Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh told PTI here.

In its letter to the Army, the Defence Ministry has said, "future attack choppers to be with the Army."

The Army had been demanding full control over attack and medium-lift helicopters saying these are mainly used for its operations but the IAF has been strongly opposing it.

Articulating the opposition, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne recently said that country "cannot afford to have these 'little air forces' doing their own things."

In the wake of tussle between IAF and Army, the Defence Ministry arrived at the decision after consulting National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon.

However, the Defence Ministry has allowed the IAF to retain the medium-lift choppers including the Mi-17s.

"Medium lift helicopters to be with the IAF but command and review system to ensure priortisation of tasks to meet operational needs," the Defence Ministry communication says.

PTI