Indian Air Force’s First AH-64E Apache, CH-47F Chinook Helicopters Conduct Maiden Flights

The first AH-64E Apache attack helicopter and CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopter built for the Indian Air Force (IAF) have completed their maiden flights, Boeing announced.

The first flight of the attack helicopter was conducted at Boeing’s AH-64 Apache manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona in USA while that of the cargo helicopter was conducted at the company’s Chinook assembly facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“First flight of India’s Apache and Chinook helicopters are important milestones towards strengthening Indian armed forces capabilities,” said Pratyush Kumar, President of Boeing India. “India will receive the most advanced versions of both the AH-64E Apache and the CH-47F Chinook. Indian industry partners such as Dynamatics is building large sections of Chinook, and the Tata Boeing joint venture in Hyderabad is building the complete fuselage of the Apache”.

“We look forward to delivering this phenomenal capability to India,” said David Koopersmith, vice president and general manager, Boeing Vertical Lift. “From coastal operations to high-altitude mountainous missions, these aircraft will play vital roles with the Indian armed forces.”

Indian Air Force will ultimately receive 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F(I) Chinook heavy-lift transport helicopters, for which a contract, worth $3.1 billion, was finalized in September 2015. These platforms will start arriving in the country in the middle of 2019.

Today, customers around the world operate more than 2,300 Boeing-made Apache helicopters since the aircraft entered production. The helicopter has been fielded or selected for acquisition by the armed forces of 16 countries, including India. The U.S. Army Apache fleet alone has accumulated more than 4.3 million flight hours, including more than 1.2 million in combat, as of January 2018.

Indian Air Force’s first AH-64E Apache attack helicopter taking off for its maiden flight. Boeing photo

The CH-47F is an advanced multi-mission helicopter for the U.S. Army and international defense forces. It contains a fully integrated, digital cockpit management system, Common Aviation Architecture Cockpit and advanced cargo-handling capabilities that complement the aircraft’s mission performance and handling characteristics.

Indian Air Force’s first CH-47F Chinook heavy lift helicopter taking off for its maiden flight. Boeing photo

Additionally, six Apaches were cleared for purchase for the Indian Army in 2017. 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 before.

Fuselages for this Army order will be produced by Tata Boeing Aerospace Limited, the joint venture between Boeing and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) in Hyderabad. On June 19, Tata Boeing Aerospace announced the delivery of the first AH-64 Apache combat helicopter fuselage ahead of schedule from its state-of-the-art facility in Hyderabad, India.

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 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. This include procurement of  C-130J Super Hercules special operations aircraft, C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft, P-8I Neptune maritime patrol aircraft, Harpoon missiles and M777 howitzers.

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