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  • Writer's pictureayush devak

What is HELINA — The latest weapon in the Indian Armed Forces armoury

Indian Armed Forces are getting a new weapon — HELINA, the tank-busting missile.

Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the HELINA is designed to be fired from helicopters and aircraft to destroy enemy tanks. This Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) has recently undergone trials and four of the five trials have been successful. Now, it has to be "integrated" into helicopters and Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) and Bharat Dynamics (BDL) are at work on it. The "integration" should be complete by 2025 is the assessment.

The name HELINA explains the origin of the missile. It is an amalgamation of two words. "Heli" is short for 'helicopter'. "Na" comes from 'Nag' — the anti-tank guided missile the DRDO worked on over the years. Work on the HELINA began about a decade ago, and with the trials in September 2022 being successful, the decision to arm a helicopter with it was taken. The missile is largely indigenous with only the "seeker" being imported With work already in progress for arming helicopters with the HELINA, there is also an effort to reduce the "human-machine interface" time. Simply put, the missile has to be fired as quickly as possible so that the enemy does not have the time to react. Currently, the 'acquisition" is taking 50-60 seconds, but it is being brought down to 30 seconds. This will allow the helicopter a better opportunity to destroy enemy tanks on the ground.

The HELINA should be ready in two-three years, but the question is of a stop-gap arrangement till then. One possibility is purchasing a foreign anti-tank missile that can be fired from a helicopter. There are missiles like Spike and Hellfire that are readily available, though very few cases involving the purchase of foreign weapons are coming up in the Defence Acquisition Council, which is headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh and includes the Chief of Defence Staff Anil Chauhan and the three chiefs. The other option is a collaboration with a foreign manufacturer and ensuring that it is produced in India.


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