In a big boost to India’s combat capabilities, eight US-made Boeing Apache AH-64E attack helicopters joined the Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet today in Pathankot.
According to the reports, the Indian Air Force inducted eight lethal attack helicopters in the presence of Air Force chief BS Dhanoa at the Pathankot Air Force station. “It is one of the most fierce attack helicopters in the world. It is capable of performing many missions, today with the induction of Apache AH-64E, the Indian Air Force has upgraded its inventory to the latest generation of attack helicopters,” Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said on induction of the choppers.
The Apache choppers received a water cannon salute, before induction at the Pathankot Air Base. This will be its first fleet of attack choppers. By 2020, the IAF will operate a fleet of 22 Apaches.
— ANI (@ANI) September 3, 2019
“It is a ceremonial induction of the aircraft into IAF. As of now, we have 8 aircraft. 22 aircraft will come in a phased manner and all will be inducted into the IAF. We had attack helicopters earlier, but this aircraft brings in lethal firepower with great accuracy,” IAF spokesperson Anupam Banerjee said.
In 2015, India had signed a multi-billion dollar contract with Boeing for the supply of 22 of these choppers, widely considered the most advanced helicopters of their type in the world.
The 22 Boeing Apache-64E attack helicopters are meant to replace the IAF’s ageing fleet of Russian Mi-35 choppers which are nearing the end of their service life. The attack helicopters can fire anti-armour missiles, mainly targetting tanks, bunkers and can be deployed in other wide-ranging missions. They are equipped with advanced sensors to enable them to detect and engage their targets while flying very low and at high speeds to evade detection by enemy forces.
The AH-64E Apache for the IAF completed successful first flights in July 2018. The first batch of IAF crew began their training to fly the Apache in the US last year. The IAF’s first Boeing AH-64E Apaches will be inducted into the 125 HU ‘Gladiators’ squadron.
“It is the only available combat helicopter with a spectrum of capabilities for virtually any mission requirement. For the AH-64 E, this includes greater thrust and lift, joint digital operability, improved survivability and cognitive decision aiding,” the PTI quoted Boeing as saying.
Addition to Apache attack helicopters, the Indian Air Force’s combat helicopter stream will be augmented by Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), which is being indigenously designed and developed by HAL. The LCH can be deployed in various roles, including tracking slow-moving aerial targets, insurgency, destroying enemy defences, search and rescue, anti-tank and scouting. The Indian Air Force will induct 65 HAL LCH.
The Indian Air Force also currently uses HAL Rudra as an attack helicopter. The HAL Rudra is the Weapon System Integrated (WSI) variant of the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH). HAL Rudra is the first armed helicopter being produced indigenously in India. It can be deployed in a wide range of missions, including reconnaissance, troop transport, anti-tank warfare and close air support.