Bangalore: The first indigenously-developed weaponised helicopter Rudra was today handed over to the army which has successfully raised an attack chopper fleet on its own.
This is the first of the 60 armed helicopters provided to the Army by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) after the defence ministry handed over the control of all attack helicopters to the land force.
"This is a very important system for us as it will be the first platform (of choppers) which is weaponised. In any battle, fire (power) and manoeuvrability should be closely integrated to support ground operations and provide immediate help if and when required.
"This (Rudra) will help us to get that capability," Army Deputy Chief Lt Gen Narendra Singh told reporters in Bangalore.
"The first squadron of the helicopters would be operationalised soon. We will have 60 choppers and one squadron will have 10 of them," said Army Aviation Corps' Maj Gen PK Bharali in Bangalore.
He was talking on the sidelines of a function where HAL chairman RK Tyagi officially handed over the chopper to the army.
Bharali said a total of 60 Rudras would be inducted into the Army and the machines will be part of six squadrons.
The chopper is armed with air-to-air missiles such as the Mistral, rocket pods and heavy machine guns to help the ground forces with close air support. The army is also planning to procure the under-development Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) being produced by the HAL.
Recently, after a long tussle between the army and the air force, the defence ministry decided to give control of all the future acquisitions of attack choppers to the land force.
The army has plans of having a squadron-each of weaponised choppers in each of the pivot corps and a full-fledged attack chopper squadron with each of the three Strike Corps.
Rudra is the Mk-IV variant of Advanced Light Helicopter designed and manufactured by HAL. Besides the weapons, the helicopter is fitted with warning and counter measure systems and survivability features.
HAL chairman Tyagi said the defence PSU was committed to all the projects of the army.
HAL managing director (Helicopter Complex) P Soundara Rajan handed over the documents relating to the helicopter to Lt Gen Singh on the occasion.
The warning and counter measures include Radar Laser Missile Warning Systems and Flare Chaff Dispensers, Singh said.