Solution soon on Army, IAF spat over choppers: Antony

NEW DELHI, Oct 9:
The issue between the Army and the IAF for controlling attack helicopters was a “family problem” and the government was in the final stages of finding a solution for it, Defence Minister A K Antony said here today.
The Army has been demanding the control over attack and medium-lift helicopters saying they are mainly used for its operations and that is why they should be under it. The IAF, which operates two squadrons of Russian-origin Mi-35/25 attack choppers, has been opposing the demand.
“There is no tussle and there is no war. These are all family problems and we will find a solution. We are in the final stages of finding the solution amicably. Don’t go beyond that,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Territorial Army Day parade.
The Minister was asked if the Defence Ministry has rejected Army’s demand to have its own fleet of attack and medium-lift helicopters, over which the two services are engaged in a battle.
The IAF had recently said that it has rejected the Army’s demand to have their own attack and medium-lift helicopters contending that the country can’t afford to have these “little air forces” growing up to do their “own things”.
Commenting on its proposal, Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh said the Defence Ministry holds a very “sympathetic view” about the demand raised by the Army for having its own attack helicopters.
It is still under the active consideration of the Ministry and it is not correct for anyone to say that the Ministry has shelved the Army’s proposal in this regard, he said.
Recently, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne had said “little air forces” cannot be allowed to grow up asking if the Coast Guard asks for submarines, will it be given the assets by the Navy.
Addressing the Territorial Army Day Parade, Antony said the force comprising volunteers has made significant contributions during times of both war and peace.
“The brave soldiers of the Territorial Army displayed bravery and courage during the battles in 1962, 1965 and 1971, Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka and Operation Vijay in Kargil,” he said.
Territorial Army battalions are also deployed in counter- insurgency and counter-terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeastern states.
The Minister said it was a matter of great satisfaction that eminent personalities such as Minister of State for Information Technology Sachin Pilot have come forward to join the force.
“The latest induction has been Sachin Pilot. By becoming active members of the Territorial Army, such eminent personalities not only enrich the organisation, but also contribute to enhance the image of the force among the youth of the nation,” Antony said.
Pilot, who attended the function, was in full ceremonial attire.
Highlighting the achievements of the Territorial Army in improving ecology in the country, the Defence Minister said, “The force has gained an entry into ‘Guinness Book of World Records’ for plantation of maximum trees by a body of men in a day.” (PTI)

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