India’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has approved the purchase of six Boeing Apache AH-64E multi-role attack helicopters for the Indian Army on August 17.
The contract is valued at Rs 4,168 crore ($655 million) and includes associated equipment, training, weapons, and spares.
The new agreement will be in addition to the 2015 decision to buy 22 Apaches and 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters worth $3 billion for the Indian Air Force (IAF) under a government-to-government (G2G) deal with the US.
For years, the Indian Army has been trying to convince the government that it needs it’s own integral attack helicopters so that it doesn’t need to call in the IAF for its operations. Though army pilots have been deputed to Mi-35 attack helicopter squadrons of the Indian Air Force, this is the first time that the army has got the go-ahead to acquire its own state-of-the art attack choppers.
In addition to the Apache, the Indian Army is in the process of significantly expanding its fleet of armed helicopters, though these are not as heavily armed as the Apache. Ninety-five of these Light Combat Helicopters or LCH, built indigenously, can be acquired by the army, the government has said. But the army will first evaluate five of them while under development before deciding whether to get more. The LCH is designed for high-altitude areas and will be deployed on the China front.
Before the arrival of the Apache and the LCH, the army has already made operational its first squadron of Rudra, a weaponised variant of the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH). The first squadron of Rudra choppers has been made operational in a Holding Corps, a defensive formation in the Western sector facing Pakistan.
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.
According to Boeing, the AH-64 Apache “is the world’s most advanced multi-role combat helicopter and is used by the US Army and a growing number of international defence forces.”
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.
It has four hardpoints mounted on stub-wing pylons, typically carrying a mixture of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods. The AH-64 has a large amount of systems redundancy to improve combat survivability.
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.
American AH-64s have served in conflicts in Panama, the Persian Gulf, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Israel used the Apache in its military conflicts in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip; British and Dutch Apaches have seen deployments in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.