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IAF 87th Anniversary: A Look At Helicopters of Indian Air Force

By: Arjit Garg

Edited By: Anirudh SK


Last Updated: October 08, 2019, 10:56 IST

The Apache helicopter.

The Apache helicopter.

From carrying the Prime Minster to rescuing citizens from disturbed areas the helicopters in the Indian Air Force has done it all. Hence, on the 2019 Indian Air Force Day we bring you a list of all the helicopters in the Indian Air Force's fleet.

The 87th Indian Air Force Day celebrates the day when the IAF was officially established in 1932. On the occasion, the Indian Air Force showcases their latest technology and the road that lies ahead. For this year, the much-awaited 36 Rafale Fighter jets will be received by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in France. The IAF will also showcase the Chinook and Apache helicopters for the first time. Both the helicopters were acquired from the United States. In addition to this, a spectacular air display ceremony will also take place at the Hindon Air Force base near Delhi.

From carrying the Prime Minster to rescuing citizens from disturbed areas Hence, on the 2019 Indian Air Force Day we bring you a list of all the helicopters in the Indian Air Force's fleet.

The Apache Guardian attack helicopter. (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/IAF_MCC)

Boeing Apache AH-64E

The Attack Helicopter fleet of IAF got a major boost with the induction of Boeing AH-64E Apache helicopters. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has inducted a total of 16 of these machines till date, the latest being eight Apache reaching the Pathankot Air Force Station. By 2020, the IAF will operate a fleet of 22 Apaches, which is known as the world’s most advanced multi-role combat helicopter. The AH-64 E is known for its greater thrust and lift, joint digital operability, improved survivability, and cognitive decision aiding and is uniquely suited to meet the commander’s needs, including reconnaissance, security, peacekeeping operations, and lethal attack—in both land and littoral environments—all without reconfiguration.

IAF Boeing Chinook. (Image: Boeing)

Boeing Chinook

The Boeing-made CH-47F (I) Chinooks for the Indian Air Force will boost the nation’s heavy heli-lift capability. A total of 6 Chinooks of the 15 Chinooks on order have been delivered to India by now. The CH-47 Chinook is an advanced multi-mission helicopter that provides strategic airlift capability across the full spectrum of combat and humanitarian missions. The CH-47F was made for the U.S. Army and international defence forces. It contains a fully integrated, digital cockpit management system, Common Aviation Architecture and advanced cargo-handling capabilities that enhance the aircraft's mission performance and handling characteristics. It is used by the U.S. Army, U.S. Army Reserve, National Guard and by the armed forces of more than 19 countries.

IAF rescues 125 people in Kutch region. (Image source: Twitter/Indian Air Force)

Mil MI-17 V5

The Mi-17 V5 is a twin-turbine transport helicopter used by the IAF to transport the Prime Minister of India domestically. It is also used for other transport activities and is an advanced and trusted platform equipped with modern avionics and glass cockpit instrumentation and has state-of-art navigational equipment, weather radar and is NVG-compatible. The MI-17 V5 is a version of the MI-17 family of helicopters made by erstwhile Soviet and now Russian Mil Helicopter Company. The Medium Lift Helicopter is also used to ferry personnel to remote mountain helipads, carrying out SAR (Search and Rescue Operations) and logistic support tasks in the island territories, Siachen Glacier, apart from the armed role.

Mil Mi-35. (Image Source)

Mil MI-25/MI-35

The attack helicopters that used to guard India before the arrival of US-made Apache were the Mil MI-25 and MI-35, Twin engine turboshaft, assault, and anti-armor helicopters that are capable of carrying 8 men assault squad. The Mi-25 was the first Attack Helicopter Squadron of IAF and was raised on 1st Nov 1983. The Mi-35 was inducted in April 1990. The attack helis have four barrel 12.7 mm rotary gun in nose barbette and upto 1500 Kg of external ordnance including Scorpion anti-tank missiles. It has a max cruise speed of 310 km/hr.

IAF Mi-26. (Image Source)

Mil MI-26

Undoubtedly the pride of the Indian Air Force and also the biggest of the lot, the Mi-26 heavy-lift helicopter has been used for operations in the mountains of Northern India. The Russian origin Mil-made Twin engine turboshaft is a military heavy-lift helicopter with a carrying capacity of 70 combat troops or 20,000 kg payload. It has a max speed of 295 km/hr.

Image used for representation purpose. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

HAL Chetak

The Aérospatiale Alouette III is a single-engine, light utility helicopter manufactured in India under license by HAL and is developed by French aircraft company Sud-Aviation. While the HAL Chetak is being gradually replaced by HAL Dhruv, the heli has been used for training, transport, CASEVAC (casualty evacuation), communications and liaison roles. The helicopter can carry 6 passengers or 500 kg load. It has a max speed of 220 km/hr.

Cheetah Helicopter of the Indian Air Force.

HAL Cheetah

The Cheetah is a essentially the Aérospatiale SA 315B Lama French single-engined helicopter made by HAL in India and was developed to meet high altitude operational requirements of the Indian Armed Forces. The Cheetah helicopter fleet has been the backbone in SAR, Casualty Evacuation and RTR (Route Transport Role) role in the IAF. The Cheetah has a capacity to carry 3 passengers or 100 kg external sling loads. It has a max cruise speed of 121 km/hr and can climb to 1 km in 4 minutes.

'Sarang' helicopter aerobatic team of Indian Air Force performs at the 86th Air Force Day Parade 2018, at Air Force Station, Hindon in Ghaziabad. (Image: PTI)


The Dhruv ALH is a helicopter developed and manufactured by the HAL and entered service in 2002. The indigenous ALH fleet in IAF has steadily grown from conventional ALH Mk-I to state of the art 'Glass' cockpit ALH Mk-III. The helicopter is a twin-engine machine that can carry 14 passengers with two pilots and has a cruise speed of 250 km/hr. It is also used by the Sarang Helicopter Display Team, apart from SAR, Cas Evac, and RTR operations. There's also an attack variant of the HAL Dhruv called HAL Rudra.

first published:October 08, 2019, 10:43 IST
last updated:October 08, 2019, 10:56 IST
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