In a major fillip to India’s defence readiness, 4 Apache attack helicopters, ordered by the Indian Air Force have touched down at the Hindon airbase in Ghaziabad today. It is a significant development as Apache is the first attack helicopter to be inducted in India’s defence arsenal.
The four AH-64E Apache helicopters are amongst the first batch of choppers delivered to India after PM Modi signed multi-billion dollar contract for 22 Apaches in 2015. Another batch of 4 helicopters is expected to arrive next week. The 8 attack choppers will then be moved to Pathankot airbase and will be formally inducted in the IAF in September.
The complete fuselage of the Apache helicopter has been made by Tata Boeing Aerospace in Hyderabad in India. TBAL is a joint venture between Boeing and Tata Advanced Systems, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Sons.
The IAF believes that the induction of Apache will greatly enhance its tactical capability and prove to be a game-changer. Until now, Indian Airforce is operating Russian-built Mi-35s, which are almost at the brink of retirement. Mi-35s are called as ‘assault helicopters’, used to lift troops to heavily defended territories. However, Apache helicopters, in every respect, is an attack helicopter that is hailed as the world’s most advanced multi-role combat helicopter.
One of the deadliest attack helicopters, Apache is equipped with a 30mm cannon under the nose, that can fire 1,200 rounds in less than two minutes. It also comes with 70mm rockets, which can be guided or unguided. The Apache has a capacity to carry 80 of them in one go, along with Hellfire missiles. With the help of advanced avionics on board, together, these missiles can identify, track and demolish targets with remarkable accuracy, even in pitch darkness.
The model AH-64E Apache, which India has procured is the most modern variant manufactured by Boeing and is currently also a part of US Army’s fleet. By 2020, IAF will have a fleet of 22 Apache helicopters. According to the sources, the delivery of these 4 combat helicopters are ahead of schedule.
Apart from this, the Indian Army is going to get an additional six Apaches. In 2017, the government cleared the acquisition of extra Apaches as the Indian Army was insistent on having its own attack helicopters.
India’s acquisition of helicopters from the USA has been going on smoothly, unlike most other defence purchases. In February this year, 4 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters were delivered by Boeing. Both these helicopters are part of a $3.1 billion deal for purchase of 15 CH-47F(I) Chinook heavy-lift helicopters and 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters from American aviation giant Boeing.