The Army Aviation Corps (AAC), the youngest Corps of the Indian Army, celebrated its 35th Corps Day on November 1. We take a look at the arm that adds an air dimension to the Army’s capabilities, its history, and its relevance in modern day battlefields, including Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism (CI-CT) operations.
The roots of Army Aviation Corps
The origin of the AAC can be traced back to the raising of the Army Aviation wing of the Royal Air Force in India in 1942, and the subsequent formation of the first Indian Air Observation Post in August 1947.
The Air Observation Post units primarily acted as artillery spotters – which are the elements that help the artillery in directing the fire and also giving air support to ground forces. In the wars of 1965 and 1971, the Air Observation Post helicopters played a key role in the battlefields by flying close to the enemy lines and helping ground assets spot targets.
The Corps was raised as a separate formation on November 1 in 1986. The AAC now draws its officers and men from all arms of the Army, including a significant number from the artillery.
Immediately after raising, the units of the Corps were pressed into action in Operation Pawan by the Indian Peacekeeping Forces, in the mostly jungle areas of Sri Lanka against the Tamil Tigers. Ever since, AAC helicopters have been an inseparable part of fighting formations in all major conflict scenarios, and a life-saving asset in peace times.
Over the years, the Corps has grown by additions of new units, equipment and ground assets, and along with this, its roles and capabilities too have grown.
In October last year, President Ram Nath Kovind presented the President’s Colours to the Army Aviation Corps in a ceremonial parade held at Army Aviation Base at Nashik Road. The colours were received by the Combat Army Aviation Training School on behalf of the Army Aviation Corps.