The reverberations of the Ukraine-Russia war are being felt in India’s Border Security Force (BSF), which may further impact operations of paramilitary forces and other independent bodies.
News18.com has learn that the air wing of the BSF has planned to cut down on flying hours amid the war in Europe as the force has been unable to procure parts required for maintenance.
Top BSF sources say the flying hours have been drastically reduced and may see further cuts as per the order from the top. The final call will be taken by the Union Home Ministry which decides the deployment and movement of BSF’s air wing fleet.
The BSF has a dedicated air wing that has more than a dozen MI-17 helicopters, including the V5 series, ALH Dhruv, Chetak, Cheetah helicopter, and four aircraft. This fleet is used by various paramilitary forces for operations and transportation, including VVIP travel, across India.
The helicopters are deployed in action in Jammu and Kashmir and Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected areas for evacuation. The wing is headed by an Indian Air Force officer who works in the BSF as IG Air Wing.
These choppers remain a priority choice during evacuation, but now all forces have been briefed about the situation and requested to plan accordingly, sources said.
“To keep going for six months at least, we have to reduce our flying hours. It will help us in running our fleet as we are unable to procure parts due to the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war,” a senior official told News18.
Another official in the force associated with the air wing said, “Since Home Ministry decides the movement of our fleet, the final call will be taken by the ministry. We will request the ministry to allow us to cut down our flying hours so that we can run our fleet for the next six months. Else, we would need few parts immediately to keep running our air wing,” the official said.
The officer added that the BSF had initially approached the Indian Air Force. “We also asked IAF to help us in procuring a few parts for regular maintenance, but due to the ongoing war, they are also helpless. Finally, we have decided to take up the issue at the top level.”
According to the officer, every helicopter requires a Certificate of Airworthiness which should be issued from time to time after checks. All periodically scheduled maintenance tasks must be carried out and helicopters must carry out daily inspections as per guidelines. The chopper must not have any snags or abnormalities during inspections and an engine power assurance check must be carried out at intervals specified by the manufacturer.
Since these processes and scheduled maintenance require changes of parts, reducing flying hours remains the only option to keep the fleet running, officials said.