IAF Helicopters: “Aapatsu Mitram” to “Tejas Shatruh Damanam” & Beyond

Bhupinder S Nijjar

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Helicopters have been an important component of the incredible journey of the Indian Air Force (IAF) since their induction in March 1954. Since then, the helicopter fleet of the IAF has undergone a steady expansion in terms of both types and numbers. These numbers are also likely to swell further, with the planned induction of the Apache and Chinook helicopters.

This research project provides an insight into this amazing journey of the helicopter platform in keeping with the highest traditions of the IAF. Spread over seven chapters, the layout is so designed that each chapter can be read either individually or in a contiguous manner. The narrative dwells upon the historical aspects concerning not only IAF helicopters, but also those of China and Pakistan. It addresses the issues concerning the exploitation of the rotary wing platform in a joint manner by the Indian armed forces, and also discusses the perception of the extreme vulnerability of the helicopter, as a military aviation platform. The narrative culminates with a chapter detailing the doctrinal precepts–drawing upon the lessons learnt during various military operations involving the platform in a global environment–which are likely to govern the manner in which the IAF deploys its helicopter fleet in the future.

The book is likely to appeal to both the professional as well as a layman, who have an abiding interest in both aviation history, as well as in the contemporary issues facing the Indian defence forces.

Bhupinder S Nijjar Born on January 28, 1974, and having completed his graduation from St. Edmund’s College Shillong, Wing Commander Bhupinder Singh Nijjar received his “flying wings” and was commissioned into the IAF in December 1994. His operational flying experience as a helicopter pilot extends from the high seas of “Bombay High” and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, to the tropical jungles of the northeast and high-altitude regions of Ladakh. He has been one of the few fortunate helicopter pilots to have flown the mighty Mi-26 helicopter in an operational role. His posting to an operational missile squadron as well as the experience gained during a tenure as the senior aerospace safety and inspection officer of an operational flying base–operating a mix of fighter, helicopter and transport aircraft–also contributed to his skill set. An avid reader and follower of military history, he is presently working as a research fellow with the Centre for Air Power Studies.






1. Evolution of Indian Air Force Helicopters Inception to 1971 Operations
2. Evolution of IAF Helicopters-II Consolidation Post-1971 War
3. Rotary Wing Force Structure of Pakistan
4. Rotary Wing Force Structure of China
5. Joint Helicopter Operations: A Pragmatic Approach
6. Utilisation of Helicopters by IAF and the Vulnerability Question
7. “Heli-power” Application in War: Evolving Doctrinal Precepts
Selected Bibliography



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