An additional batch of four Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, ordered for the Indian Air Force (IAF), arrived in the country recently.
The helicopters were flown aboard an Antonov AN-124-100 heavy airlifter, operated by the Ukrainian cargo airline Antonov Airlines, from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (AZA) in Arizona, USA, to Hindon Air Force Station near the Indian capital city of New Delhi.
. @AirlinesAntonov flew four Apache AH-64E Attack Helicopters on behalf of @Boeing , from @gatewayairport, Arizona, #USA, to Hindan Airforce Base (VIDX) in #India. More – https://t.co/GnC292J5Hb#Antonov #An124 #avgeek pic.twitter.com/EaRjzBcaZY
— Antonov Company 🇺🇦 (@AntonovCompany) December 6, 2019
The Antonov Airlines AN-124-100, which can accommodate up to five Apache helicopters, transported the aircraft with a total payload of 39 tonnes including their dismantled rotor blades. The mission proved highly successful.
“The Antonov Airlines team was responsive and willing to support deadlines while applying for the complex overflight permits required for military cargo,” said Jon Roland, Boeing Program Manager. “Antonov Airlines partnered with us to secure the required clearance and permissions, creating a cooperative environment to ensure smooth delivery.”
The Antonov and Boeing engineers collaborated closely on mission planning in real-time during the loading process.
“We worked out how to best use the available space during loading to safely transport the cargo,” said Amnon Ehrlich, Commercial Director, Antonov Airlines USA. “We also took into consideration the high summer temperatures in Arizona while planning the move. The loading started in the early hours to avoid the high temperatures. Following a night-time departure, the mission was completed 24 hours later.”
Boeing has already contracted Antonov Airlines for further Apache helicopter shipments later this year.
The AH-64E Apache is one of the world’s most advanced attack helicopters and will give a major boost to the Indian Air Force’s combat capability. It is being procured to replace the IAF’s Russian-made Mi-35 attack helicopter fleet.
The helicopter is capable of delivering a variety of weapons which include Hellfire air-to-ground missiles (AGMs), 70 mm Hydra rockets and Stinger air-to-air missiles (AAMs). Apache also carries one 30 mm chain gun with 1200 rounds as part of the area weapon subsystem. To add to the lethality of the helicopter, it carries fire control radar, which has a 360° coverage and nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems.
In 2015, India had placed the order, worth $3.1 billion, for 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, and 15 CH-47F(I) Chinook heavy-lift transport helicopters to be procured for its Air Force from Boeing though U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route. Additionally, six Apaches were cleared for purchase for the Indian Army in 2017.
In July last year, the first AH-64E Apache attack helicopter built for the IAF conducted its maiden flight at Boeing’s AH-64 Apache manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona in USA.
On May 10, the Indian Air Force formally took delivery of its first Apache during a ceremony at Boeing’s production facility in Mesa, Arizona, USA. During that ceremony, Air Marshal A.S. Butola, Commandant of Air Force Academy (AFA) Dundigal, represented the IAF and accepted the first Apache helicopter.
The first batch of four helicopters arrived in the country on July 27 while the second batch of four arrived on July 30. The eight helicopters were then assembled and flight-tested at Hindon Air Force Station before arriving at the Pathankot AFS for induction, which took place in September.
The IAF is scheduled to receive all 22 helicopters by March 2020.