India and the US are anticipated to sign a deal for six Apache AH-64E (I) in a transfer that might fetch the Indian Military its first squadron of sophisticated hi-tech assault gunships. Apache, which is manufactured by American defence major Boeing, is expected to cost around $930 million.

Quoting one of many officers aware of the developments, Hindustan Time reported, “The Apache purchase is before the cabinet committee on security for final clearance. The deal will be inked in next month.”

Indian Military’s Bold Plan To Modernise Its Aviation Corp

Notably, the Indian Military is engaged on a 10-year modernisation plan for its Aviation Corps to induct round 350 helicopters. The long-pending plan is expected to scale up the tempo within the coming years with the military planning to incorporate the indigenous Light Combat Helicopter and the battle-proven Apache.

The AH-64E Apache multi-role combat helicopters are being bought under the US foreign military sales program, Washington’s government-to-government method for selling US-built platforms. The deliveries of the helicopters will begin in 2022, the second official said.

Armed with fire-and-forget Hellfire missiles, an Apache can track up to 128 targets a minute and prioritise threats. The missiles equip the gunships with heavy anti-armour capabilities.

IAF Inducts Apache Attack Helicopter

Eight Apache AH-64E (I) helicopters were inducted into the IAF at the Pathankot front line air base in Sept 2019 which is located near the India-Pakistan border reported the Economic Times. This new 125 Squadron is called the ‘Gladiators’, another squadron called the 137 will be raised. Officials added that the crew for this squadron is being trained in the US. This squadron will also be in the western sector. Four more Apaches are likely to be received by the IAF this month. By 2020, the IAF will operate a fleet of 22 Apaches.

Complex Operations Envelop

The Apaches will be used in war games and real time exercises in the next six to eight months. Officials explained that while the Apache’s pilots and crew, who have been trained in the US, understands the basic combat features of the helicopter, including operating it, an exercise which will give a greater insight into how it can be used tactically and in different missions. It will be also seen how well the Apaches operate in high-altitude areas, especially valleys, given that it has better manoeuvrability and is lighter than the Mi-35 attack helicopter it is replacing.

The IAF on the induction ceremony said, “The addition of Apache Attack Helicopter is a significant step towards modernisation of Indian Air Force helicopter fleet. This procurement will enhance the capability of IAF in providing integrated combat aviation cover to the army strike corps.”

An official added, “Yes, the Apaches can be used in cross border strikes on terrorist camps. But, it will have some limitations, such as in speed.”

Another official also agreed to the helicopter’s capability in a cross border strike, but added, “That the Apaches won’t be used on the first day of the war. It is a strategic asset and can be used as a strike package with fighters.”

The Boeing AH-64 Apache is an American twin-turboshaft assault helicopter with a tail-wheel-type touchdown gear association. Apache is loaded with fire-and-forget Hellfire missiles and can monitor as much as 128 targets a minute and prioritise threats. Furthermore, the gunship is equipped with heavy anti-armour capabilities.

Owing to the great manoeuvrability, these choppers are competent sufficient for a nap-of-the-earth flight, that is flying at a really low-altitude flight as a way to keep away from enemy detection. It will make it simple for the pilots to flee an assault in a high-threat setting just like the India-Pakistan border.

Air Vice-Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (Retd), Additional Director General, Centre for Air Power Studies mentioned, “Being the first deal after the government decided to give attack helicopters to the army, it is of significance. However, just six helicopters constitute a flight and would have limited operational value. The maintenance facilities of these six choppers should hopefully be dovetailed with the 22 Apaches that the IAF is acquiring – that’s two full helicopter squadrons.”

Since 2008, India has bought or ordered military equipment worth $15 billion from the US, including C-130J special operations planes, C-17 transport aircraft, P-8I submarine hunter planes, Harpoon missiles, helicopters, and M777 howitzers. All significant hi-technology additions to the Indian armoury.

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