India is all set to procure additional Apache helicopters from the US for the Indian army who is in desperate need of having attack helicopters in its armoury to enhance combat capability. The Boeing-manufactured Apache helicopters are expected to cost around $930 million.
The Apache helicopters will have two key roles – to provide direct and accurate close air support for ground troops, and second, the anti-tank role to destroy enemy armour companies.
The induction of the Apache fleet came over six months after India carried out an airstrike in Balakot, Pakistan. The IAF demanded to further bolster its combat capabilities to deal effectively deal with any security threat along both India-Pakistan and India-China border.
The AH-64E Apache multi-role combat helicopters are being bought under the US foreign military sales programme, Washington’s government-to-government method for selling US-built platforms. The deliveries of the helicopters will begin in 2022, the second official said.
The AH-64E Apache is one of the world’s most advanced multi-role combat helicopters and is operated by the US Army. The attack helicopters are customised to suit IAF’s future requirements. “The helicopter is capable of delivering a variety of weapons, including air to ground Hellfire missiles, 70 mm Hydra rockets and air to air stinger missiles,” officials said.
To add to its lethality, the helicopter carries a fire control radar, which has 360-degree coverage and a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems, they said. The AH-64E Apache helicopter also carries one 30 mm chain gun with 1,200 rounds.
Alongside the capability to shoot fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missiles, air-to-air missiles, rockets and other ammunition, the attack chopped also has modern electronic warfare capabilities to provide versatility in a network-centric aerial warfare.
The Apaches also have a fully integrated digital cockpit which enhances its mission performance. It is uniquely suited for reconnaissance, security, peacekeeping operations, and lethal attack across myriad environments without reconfiguration.
The Apache helicopters will replace the crumbling Mi-35 fleet of the IAF and the last batch of the choppers will be delivered by March 2020. Apaches are easily maintainable even in field conditions and are capable of prolonged operations in tropical and desert regions.
The IAF had signed a multi-billion dollar contract with the US government and Boeing Ltd in September 2015 for 22 Apache helicopters. Boeing has delivered more than 2,200 Apaches to customers around the world since the aircraft entered production. “By 2020, the IAF will operate a fleet of 22 Apaches, and these first deliveries are ahead of schedule,” the company said.