India is expected to sign an agreement with the United States, early next year, to procure six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for the Indian Army, according to local media reports.
According to an unnamed Defence Ministry official, the procurement of the helicopters is currently under consideration with the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) with approval expected shortly. He added that the deal may happen early next year.
The first Apache helicopters will join the Indian Army in 2022 and will become the service’s first dedicated attack helicopters. India already has AH-64E Apache and Russian Mi-24 combat helicopters in its inventory but both rotorcraft are operated by the Air Force. Even though attack helicopters were on the Army’s wish list for many years, IAF objected to the plan.
The purchase of six Boeing-made Apache-64E helicopters for the Army was approved by the Ministry of Defence in August 2017. The deal will cost Indian taxpayers Rs 4,168 crore ($930 million).
The helicopters – along with engines, equipment, weapons, training, parts and logistical support – are being procured through the U.S. Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programs. The FMS procurement was approved by the U.S. State Department in June last year for an estimated cost of $930 million.
The FMS package includes:
• 14 T700-GE-701D turboshaft engines (including 2 spares);
• 4 AN/APG-78 Fire Control Radars (FCR) with Radar Electronic Units (REU) Block III (LONGBOW component only for four helicopters);
• 4 AN/APR-48B Modernized Radar Frequency Interferometers (M-RFI’s);
• 180 AGM-114L-3 Hellfire Longbow missiles;
• 90 AGM-114R-3 Hellfire II missiles;
• 200 Stinger Block I-92H missiles;
• 7 Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensors (MTADS-PNVS) (including 1 spare);
• 14 Embedded GPS Inertial Navigation Systems (EGI).
Also included are rockets, training and dummy missiles, 30mm cannons and ammunition, transponders, simulators, communication equipment, spare and repair parts, tools and test equipment, support equipment, repair and return support, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistic and program support.
The prime contractors for the FMS portion of the contract will be Lockheed Martin Corporation, Orlando, FL; General Electric Company, Cincinnati, OH; Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors, Owego, NY; Longbow Limited Liability Corporation, Orlando, FL; and Raytheon Company, Tucson, AZ.
Apaches in IAF Inventory
In 2015, India had placed the $3.1 billion order 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 through U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route.
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 the 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. Following the assembly and flight-testing at Hindon Air Force Station, the eight helicopters arrived at its home, Pathankot AFS. The helicopters were inducted into the IAF service in September.
The IAF is scheduled to receive all 22 helicopters by March 2020.
AH-64E Apache Guardian
The AH-64E Guardian, formerly known as AH-64D Block III, is the latest variant of the AH-64 Apache. The AH-64E features improved digital connectivity, the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTDS), more powerful T700-GE-701D turboshaft engines with upgraded face gear transmission to accommodate more power, capability to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), full Instrument flight rules (IFR) capability, and improved landing gear.
The Apache Guardian is armed with an M230 30mm automatic chain gun carried between the forward-positioned main landing gears. It has four hardpoints mounted on stub-wing pylons, capable of carrying a mixture of Hellfire II air-to-ground missiles (AGM), Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems (APKWS) II guided rocket pods, 2.75 in. Hydra rocket pods and FIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missiles (AAM).
The helicopter features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems and can also be equipped with the AN/APG-78 Longbow millimeter-wave fire-control radar (FCR), housed in a dome located above the main rotor.
Boeing has delivered more than 2,200 Apaches, across the variants, to customers around the world since the aircraft entered production with the primary customer being the U.S. Army. The U.S. Army Apache fleet has accumulated (as of July 2016) more than 4.2 million flight hours since the first AH-64A was delivered to the U.S. Army in January 1984.