Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Missile warning systems for Indian choppers

Vijay Mohan

Over a decade after an IAF chopper was shot down in combat over Kargil, Army Aviation and IAF helicopters will be equipped with indigenous missile approach warning systems (MAWS) and laser-warning receivers for self-defence.

Bharat Electronics (BEL) will initially produce about 70 such systems for the Army’s Cheetah helicopters. The lightest helicopter in the Indian inventory, Cheetahs are the lifeline of troops deployed at extreme altitudes in the northern sector and also perform vital recce and observation tasks in the forward areas.

The MAWS has been developed by the DRDO’s Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE) and the DRDO claims to have successfully tested it on the IAF’s Avro transport aircraft before it was sought by the Army.

It will form part of an aircraft’s electronic warfare suite and detect an incoming anti-aircraft missile, provide advance warning to the cockpit crew for initiating evasive action and trigger defensive counter-measures like firing chaff flares or emitting false electronic signals to confuse and deflect hostile missiles. The IAF and Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) have also approached Dare to modify and validate this system for the IAF’s fleet of Mi-17 helicopters and the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) that is under development at HAL.

The medium lift Mi-17s are the only armed helicopters currently capable of operating in the high altitude areas in Jammu and Kashmir. Other armed helicopters like the older Mi-8 or the Mi-35 gunships are not capable of high altitude operations.

The IAF had lost a Mi-17 along with its crew of four during strike missions when it suffered a hit by an enemy missile over the icy heights of Tololing in Kargil in May, 1999. The crew had carried out nine strike sorties. This year, the IAF had commemorated the sacrifices of the crew, who had been decorated with the Vayu Sena Medal.


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