Apache choppers give wings to IAF might

Updated on Sep 04, 2019 10:00 AM IST
The helicopters are part of a $1.1-billion deal India inked with US defence and aerospace giant Boeing in September 2015 for 22 Apaches to sharpen its attack capabilities.
An IAF Apache chopper readies for takeoff.(HT FILE)
An IAF Apache chopper readies for takeoff.(HT FILE)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Tuesday inducted eight US-made Apache AH-64E helicopters into its fleet at the Pathankot airbase to modernise its assault capabilities to counter ground-based armoured targets and aerial threats.

The helicopters are part of a $1.1-billion deal India inked with US defence and aerospace giant Boeing in September 2015 for 22 Apaches to sharpen its attack capabilities. The helicopters will replace the IAF’s Soviet-origin Mi-35 gunships.

Speaking at the induction ceremony, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said: “Alongside the capability to shoot fire-and-forget anti- tank guided missiles, air-to-air missiles, rockets and other ammunitions, it also has modern electronic warfare capabilities to provide versatility to the helicopter in a network-centric aerial warfare.”

He said the choppers had been tailored to meet the IAF’s exacting standards.

Boeing will deliver all the 22 helicopters by March 2020, the force said in a statement.

The air chief said the Mi-35 was the main attack helicopter of IAF for the last three decades, and proved its mettle in different operations.

Inducted in the 1980s, it was, however, nearing the end of its service life.

“Apache is being operated worldwide by US, UK, Israel, and many other countries. It is an advanced multi-mission helicopter being flown since beginning of the 1980s and remains one of the fiercest helicopters in the world. It has proved its operational success across the world along with the capability,” Dhanoa said.

Though the Apache entered service three decades ago, it has been progressively upgrades over the years, and the ‘E’ model inducted by IAF is the latest in the line.

India is the 16th nation to select the Apache. “To add to the lethality of the helicopter, it carries a fire control radar, which has a 360-degree coverage and nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision
systems,” the IAF statement

Experts stressed that the Apache choppers would significantly enhance IAF’s capabilities to execute a variety of missions.

“The Apaches will multiply IAF’s capabilities both in a hot war scenario and sub-conventional warfare. It will be an extremely potent weapon system,” said former IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal (retd) Fali Major.

The all-weather helicopters have high agility and survivability against battle damage.

“These are easily maintainable even in field conditions and are capable of prolonged operations in tropical and desert regions,” the IAF statement added.

Since 2008, India has bought or ordered military equipment worth more than $15 billion from the US, including C-130J special operations planes, C-17 transport aircraft, P-8I submarine hunter planes, Harpoon missiles, helicopters, and M777 howitzers.

Salil Gupte, president, Boeing India, said: “We are confident that the Apaches will be an
indispensable asset to the Indian Air Force. We will continue
our efforts to deliver advanced capabilities to India’s defence


    A principal correspondent, Ravi Krishnan Khajuria is the bureau chief at Jammu. He covers politics, defence, crime, health and civic issues for Jammu city.

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