Home > politics > policy > Indian Army to get six Boeing-made Apache attack helicopters

New Delhi: India has approved the purchase of six Boeing Co.-made Apache AH-64E multi-role attack helicopters valued at Rs4,168 crore for the army.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) cleared the purchase on Thursday, according to a government official who did not wish to be named. This cost includes associated equipment, training, weapons, and spares, the official added.

The new agreement will be in addition to the 2015 decision to buy 22 Apaches and 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters worth $3 billion for the Indian Air Force under a government-to-government deal with the US.

Apaches have been used in conflicts in the Gulf, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

“It’s the best in its class and it has proven battle worthiness so you can’t really do much about the price asked for. Of course it will pinch but it should not matter beyond a point," said Deba Mohanty, head of New Delhi-based Indike Analytics, a research firm on defence and strategic affairs.

Mohanty, however, questioned the defence procurement process. Since both the army and air force wanted the same helicopters they should have been clubbed together in a single tender, he said.

“It would have helped save time, procedural arrangements and negotiations. This problem of bad planning should be addressed by defence planers," he said.

Boeing has won contracts worth about $14 billion from India over the past few years, including for the supply of C17 Globemaster transport planes, Harpoon missiles, P-8 anti-submarine warfare jets, Apaches and Chinooks.

In lieu of that, it has an offset obligation to source products and services worth about 30% of the value from India.

Marc Allen, president of Boeing International, said the firm was casting its “anchor deep into India" and more announcements are likely soon.

“You see that we are producing the structure for Apache (helicopters) but what’s ahead now will be the progression (of this)," he said in an interview on 1 August. “We have talked around a variety of possibilities whether it is autonomous systems or whether it is systems themselves on another platform. None of them are announced yet, so I am not going to make news... but there are a number of discussions ongoing, so that’s going to continue growing."

Boeing has also tied up with Tata Advanced Systems Ltd to produce Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter fuselages in Hyderabad.

India was the world’s fifth highest defence spender in 2016 with a total expenditure of $55.9 billion, up 8.5% from the previous year, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The DAC also cleared a proposal to buy two sets of gas turbines from the Ukraine for two Grigorovich-class ships being built in Russia for India.

The gas turbines will be bought by India from the Ukraine due to the ongoing tension between the two nations—Russia and Ukraine, the official cited above said. These are expected cost Rs490 crore.

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