Why was the Indian air force against the Indian army getting Apache attack helicopters?
There has been rumors round the corner when India signed the deal with United States for buying twenty two Apache Helicopters for its Attack Helicopter fleet, that there has been a tussle between Indian Army and Indian Air Force in regard with the ownership of these helicopters post its delivery. But finally everything got cleared and this batch of twenty two helicopters were allotted to Indian Air Force.
But as though IAF is slowly and steadily receiving its order of the Apache Helicopters, but these rumors actually ceases to die. And was factually again on the news when during the recent state visit of the President of the United States of America, decision for purchasing of six Apache Helicopters for Indian Army was taken. Though now no one can complain that why Army don’t have the attack helicopter or why IAF don’t have its own share of them, but a question which still pertains and is curiously hanging in the mid thin air of military doctrine is that with whom should actually be the Attack Helicopters, Army or the Air Force?
So basically if anyone knows then would agree that Indian Armed Forces follows the Cold Start Doctrine, which is indeed more instigated towards the Pakistan in lieu of the activities which they have did and is still doing against India. So basically to avoid any kind of misfortune by our so called neighbor, our Armed Forces and mainly our Army for the land based offensives must be ready enough for their call and fast deployment of their asset with greater mobility. Now post deployment of assets and actually carrying out the operation, the land based force, which can be infantry or the armored corps must be back supported by the logistics and medical corps. And if we see, Indian Army has them in a very orderly manner which in short can use these assets very effectively if required.
But there is another one thing which should be there. During any battle, in the term of military the Tactical Battle Area or in short in layman’s language the area in which the operation is being carried out, requires Air Support. This Air Support is very different from what a normal Close Air Support is. The Air Support provided here to the ground forces must be intimate and powerful. And additionally the one who are providing the ground forces with the Close Air Support must have better adapted knowledge of the ground scenarios.
Now if we see through all of these, the operational and as well ownership of the armed and attack helicopters must be with the Army. Because;
While the ground forces are deployed, they needed to be supported by air. And that can be done by the armed or the attack helicopters. In Indian Armed Forces, the operational control of the Attack Helicopters lies with the Indian Army and the ownership with the Indian Air Force.
Secondly Close Air Support will be much more effective if they are operated by those who knows the Tactical Battle Area and the mindset of the ground forces. And that can be achieved only if the helicopters are with the Army, because the battle approach of both these professional forces, Army and Air Force are much different.
Though the Attack Helicopters of IAF are integrated with the Army, but during the actual scenario of war the deployment and participation may be hindered by the lack of integration between these two forces. Though Chief of Defence staffs is a pivotal thing in doing so, but still if it does the above two things are yet to be clarified.
Leaving these all aside for now, lets take up the example of the United States Army. All the Armed and Attack Helicopters are with the Army Aviation Corps. And the effective integration of their battle assets, that is their helicopters and their ground forces has played a significant role in carrying out their post-war militancy operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Basically in US Army Operations, the US Army Helicopters moves on with their ground forces for providing Air Support and Close Air Support and they are further supported by United States Air Force via their Close Air Support aircrafts like A-10 and AC-130 Gunships. And this is the way how they carry out their operations.
Same way, even in British Army, the ownership and as well as operational command of the Armed Helicopters lies with the British Army only. Their use of their these helicopters proved to be a great success for their ground forces. This all happened because of the effective use of the assets. And this was possible because the ownership and the operational control of the Armed AH-1 Apache Helicopters lies solemnly with British Army only.
Even our immediate neighbor like Pakistan, they have their dedicated Army Aviation Corps which have dedicated attack and armed helicopters. And in addition they are constantly increasing the strength of that. Right now with about 48 Bell AH-1 Cobra Helicopters and about 20 planned Mil Mi-35 Helicopters they indeed have an upper hand against our Army Aviation Corps. Additionally they were also planning to procure two other different versions of the armed helicopters. One being TAI ATAK Helicopter and other Bell AH 1Z Viper Helicopter. But TAI ATAK Helicopter deal was truck in between due to the sanctions as imposed on them and the Bell AH 1Z Viper also met the same fate.
Similarly the ownership of the Armed and the Attack Helicopters of our not so friendly neighbor China lies with the their Army only. The ownership and the operational control of their three armed/attach helicopter lies with the People Liberation Army Ground Force.
Source:- Sourindra Laha Quora