New Delhi: US Aerospace company Boeing on Saturday said the first four of 22 AH-64E Apaches helicopters ordered by India had been received by the Indian Air Force at the Hindon Station near New Delhi.
An additional four Apaches will arrive in the coming week, and the eight will then move to the Patankhot Air Force Station in Jammu and Kashmir for their formal induction by the IAF, in September, the company said in a statement.
Boeing had in May handed over to India the first Apache helicopter at its production facility in Mesa, Arizona. According to analysts, the addition of the Apache to the Indian Air Force adds a lethal punch to its capabilities, given that the Apache is a stealthy, versatile machine, designed for all kinds of missions. It comes equipped with laser and infrared systems for day and night operations and armed with air to surface Hellfire missiles, 70 mm rockets and an automatic cannon.
The Apache is seen as the first attack helicopter in India’s defence arsenal. India has been operating the Russian origin Mi 35 for years and the Apaches are set to replace the Russian-made choppers that are now on the verge of being taken out of service. The Mi-35 was seen as an assault chopper designed to carry troops into heavily defended territories. The two pilot Apache on the other hand is seen as a dedicated attack chopper, which according to defence analysts, will be a “game changer" in the tactical battle scenario.
“The helicopter has been customized to suit IAF’s future requirements and would have significant capability in mountainous terrain. The helicopter has the capability to carry out precision attacks at standoff ranges and operate in hostile airspace with threats from the ground. The ability of these helicopters to transmit and receive the battlefield picture, to and from the weapon systems through data networking makes it a lethal acquisition," the defence ministry had said in a statement in May.
The government had placed an order for 22 AH-64 E Apache helicopters as a part of a $1.4-billion deal that was signed in September 2015. This was in addition to an order for 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy lift choppers from Boeing. The first four of the 15 Chinooks were inducted into the Indian Air Force earlier this year. The Indian government also cleared the acquisition of an additional six Apaches for the Indian Army in 2017.