The world’s second largest military measured by manpower is planning to acquire more than a dozen light combat helicopters, as India’s defense sector responds to concerns about its readiness for battle.

The addition of 15 combat helicopters may alleviate India’s lackluster defense capabilities relative to its neighbors.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited “received a request for proposals for 15 limited-series light combat helicopters (LCHs),” the company said in a December 22 announcement, adding that “this comes close on the heels of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited receiving RFPs for [the] supply of 83 light combat aircraft just days ago.”

Indian and Israeli scientists are conducting series of tests of their joint venture Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MRSAM) from a defense base in eastern India

The choppers will go into service with the Indian Army and Indian Air Force. Each multirole combat helicopter is made in India and runs about 30 percent cheaper than the latest US AH-64 Apache variant.

The LCHs are equipped with a 20 millimeter French Giat-Nexter gun, four anti-tank missiles and air-to-air missiles. The aircraft can be deployed against hostile tanks, armored personnel carriers, slow-moving planes and some surface and sub-surface naval vessels, according to military analysts.

“In the present geopolitical situation, India is located sensitively,” Defense Minister Arun Jaitley said September 1. “We have had multiple threats in the past. Therefore, preparedness is something India can never compromise on,” he continued, noting, “no country can win battles by being dependent on other countries and being a buyer [versus supplier] of defense equipment.”

The Indian Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) raised doubts about India’s ability to effectively counter potential threats from Pakistan and China in a July report. The CAG said that India’s air force, army and navy suffered major ammunition shortages and were not adequately prepared for a prolonged multi-front military conflict. The Indian military at the time had only enough ammunition for 10 days of armed conflict, the auditor found.

According to a July report in The Diplomat, Beijing has three times as many nuclear warheads than India, five times as many submarines and tanks and at least twice as many naval vessels and military aircraft. China’s People’s Liberation Army has nearly 1 million more troops in its ranks, to boot.

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