India and the US are expected to sign a deal for six Apache AH-64E (I) in a move that could fetch the Indian Army its first squadron of attack helicopters. Apache, which is being manufactured by Boeing, is expected to cost India around $930 million.
Quoting one of the officials privy to the development, Hindustan Time reported, "The Apache purchase is before the cabinet committee on security for final clearance. The deal will be inked in early 2020."
Indian Army's ambitious plan to modernise its aviation corp
Notably, the Indian Army is working on a 10-year modernisation plan for its Aviation Corps to induct around 350 helicopters. The long-pending plan is expected to pick up pace in the coming years with the army planning to include the indigenous Light Combat Helicopter and the battle-proven Apache. Earlier this year, the Indian Air Force inducted the first squadron of Apache helicopters from the US.
Apache Helicopter: Feature and Specifications
The Boeing AH-64 Apache is an American twin-turboshaft attack helicopter with a tailwheel-type landing gear arrangement. Apache is loaded with fire-and-forget Hellfire missiles and can track up to 128 targets a minute and prioritise threats. Moreover, missiles equip the gunships with heavy anti-armour capabilities.
Owing to the good manoeuvrability, these choppers are competent enough for a nap-of-the-earth flight, that is flying at a very low-altitude flight in order to avoid enemy detection. This will make it easy for the pilots to escape an attack in a high-threat environment like the India Pakistan border.
The choppers will be bought under the US foreign military sales programme, Washington's government-to-government method for selling US-built platforms. The choppers are expected to be delivered by 2022.
Air Vice-Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (retd), additional director general, Centre for Air Power Studies said, "Being the first deal after the government decided to give attack helicopters to the army, it is of significance. However, just six helicopters constitute a flight and would have limited operational value. The maintenance facilities of these six choppers should hopefully be dovetailed with the 22 Apaches that the IAF is acquiring - that's two full helicopter squadrons."
In the recent times, India and the US have significantly increased defence cooperation with the two countries signing deals worth more than $15 billion, including C-130J special operations planes, C-17 transport aircraft, P-8I submarine hunter planes, Harpoon missiles, helicopters and M777 howitzers.