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An eye on China, Missamari to host Army's first Light Combat Helicopter squadron

Missamari is strategically-located along the LAC with China. Bum La, the nearest LAC point, is at around 150km aerial distance

An eye on China, Missamari to host Army's first Light Combat Helicopter squadron
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First Published Oct 5, 2022, 5:18 PM IST

The first squadron of Light Combat Helicopters, which was raised by the Indian Army in Bengaluru in July this year, will be shifted to Assam's Missamari Army Aviation base close to the Line of Actual Control with four LCHs early next month.

So far, the Army has received three LCHs in Bengaluru from HAL. The fourth LCH would be received by the end of this month and the fifth in November. Missamari is strategically-located along the LAC with China. Bum La, the nearest LAC point, is at around 150 km of aerial distance. 

Also Read: We have been able to signal our intent and state of readiness along LAC: IAF chief

The LCH deployment in the eastern sector assumes significance amidst the ongoing standoff with China along the LAC in eastern Ladakh. The 5.8 tonnes helicopters would be laced with anti-tank guided missile Helina and air-to-air missile system but not the Indian Air Force LCH's Mistral 2. The LCH would be effective for anti-infantry and anti-armour helicopter operations.

In March this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Cabinet Committee on Security had given the approval for the procurement of 15 indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopters at a cost of Rs 3,887 crore along with infrastructure sanctions worth Rs 377 crore.

Out of the 15, ten are meant for Indian Air Force and five for the Army. Meanwhile, the Indian Army is planning for another 95 and IAF for 65 helicopters. 

Missamari Aviation Brigade 

In March 2021, the Indian Army raised its new aviation brigade to strengthen its response as well as firepower. The Brigade operates the Cheetah and Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv utility helicopters, Rudra weaponised ALH and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Heron Mk1.

It should be noted that in the last few years, the Army and Air Force have significantly enhanced their defence capabilities and firepower in the eastern sector as part of their efforts to match China's build-up and infrastructure development on its side of the LAC. 

The sector has witnessed a major impetus in terms of infrastructure development. In the eastern sector, from Sikkim to Arunachal Pradesh, India shares a 1,346 km-long LAC with China. As of now, the Army has three Aviation Brigades --- Leh, Missamari and Jodhpur. It operates with around 145 indigenous ALHs, 75 of which are the Rudra weaponised variants. Another 25 ALH Mk-III are on order and will be commissioned within two years.

Also Read: Rajnath Singh takes sortie in 'Prachand' LCH; says it sends desired message to the adversary

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