New Delhi: The Indian Air Force will add the much-needed lethal punch to its attack capabilities with the induction of eight US-made Apache AH-64E (I) helicopters on Tuesday.
According to analysts, the Apache is a stealthy, versatile machine designed for all kinds of missions. It comes equipped with laser and infrared systems for day-night operations and is armed with air- to-surface Hellfire missiles, 70 mm rockets and automatic cannon.
India signed a $1.1-billion deal with US defence giant Boeing in September 2015 for 22 Apache choppers. The IAF currently flies Soviet-origin Mi-25 and Mi-35 helicopters. The two-pilot Apache, on the other hand is seen, as a dedicated attack chopper that defence analysts say will be a “game changer" in tactical battle scenario.
The first Apache squadron will have eight helicopters that have already been supplied by Boeing, an official said. Boeing is likely to deliver the rest by 2020. Four of these helicopters are to be stationed at the Pathankot Air Force Station, a few kilometres from the border with Pakistan.
The Apache helicopters will be the second US-built helicopters to join the Indian air force fleet. IAF inducted Boeing CH-47F (I) Chinook heavy-lift helicopters on 25 March.
The Apaches are likely to be stationed at Pathankot and Jorhat
In March, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa presided over the induction ceremony of Chinook heavy-lift choppers in Chandigarh. These will be used to ferry heavy loads in the mountainous region of Ladakh and other areas for the army and air force.
Both the deals were initiated during the United Progressive Alliance regime around 2008-09 but could not be signed due to procedural and other issues in the contract, ANI news agency reported.