India has issued a Letter of Request (LoR) to the US government for procuring six additional Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for its Army, Hindustan Times reported.
According to the report, the LoR is a significant step in the procurement as it formally kicks off the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme, Washington’s government-to-government (G2G) method for selling US-built platforms.
“The LoR was issued recently and now the US has to respond with a Letter of Acceptance (LoA) to take the Apache deal forward,” the report said quoting a person closely monitoring the project. The LoA could come in six months after which the two sides will begin negotiations to hammer out a deal.
India’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the proposal from the Ministry of Defence to buy six Apache helicopters, last August. The helicopters and associated equipment are expected to cost around Rs 4,168 crore (~650 million). The six Apaches cleared by the council are being bought as a follow-on option to the 2015 contract.
India has placed an order worth $3.1 billion for 22 AH-64E Apache helicopters and 15 Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift choppers in 2015 for the Indian Air Force (IAF). These platforms will start arriving in the country in the middle of 2019.
Currently, the Indian helicopter fleet is made up of mostly Russian platforms such as Mil Mi-17 utility helicopters, Mi- 26 heavy-lift helicopters and Mi-24 attack helicopters.
India will be the 14th country to operate the attack helicopters and Boeing has delivered more than 2,200 Apaches to international customers. Attack helicopters have been on the army’s wish list for several years, but the IAF has objected to the plan. The army has a requirement for more attack helicopters as it had moved a case to buy 39 Apaches three years ago.
Since 2008, India has ordered military equipment worth $15 billion from the US, including C-130J Super Hercules special operations aircraft, C-17 Globemaster III stategic transport aircraft, P-8I Neptune maritime patrol aircraft, Harpoon missiles and M777 howitzers.
India spent more than $100 billion on buying new weapons and systems during 2008-17, with imports accounting for around 60-65% of the country’s military requirements. At $15 billion, military purchases from the US have consumed more than a fourth of the total capital expenditure for the last decade.
Boeing AH-64 Apache
Boeing AH-64 Apache is an American four-blade, twin-turboshaft attack helicopter with a tailwheel-type landing gear arrangement and a tandem cockpit for a two-man crew.
The AH-64 has a large amount of systems redundancy to improve combat survivability. It features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems.
It is armed with a 30 mm (1.18 in) M230 chain gun carried between the main landing gear, under the aircraft’s forward fuselage, and four hardpoints mounted on stub-wing pylons for carrying armament and stores, typically a mixture of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods.
The latest variant, the AH-64E Apache features improved digital connectivity, the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System, more powerful T700-GE-701D engines with upgraded face gear transmission to accommodate more power, capability to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), full IFR capability, and improved landing gear. New composite rotor blades, which successfully completed testing in 2004, increase cruise speed, climb rate, and payload capacity.
The U.S. Army is the primary operator of the AH-64; it has also become the primary attack helicopter of multiple nations, including Greece, Japan, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates; as well as being produced under license in the United Kingdom as the AgustaWestland Apache.
Boeing has delivered more than 2,200 Apaches to customers around the world since the aircraft entered production. The U.S. Army Apache fleet has accumulated (as of Jan 2015) more than 3.9 million flight hours since the first AH-64A was delivered to the U.S. Army in 1984.