In­dian Army Sanc­tioned Apache At­tack He­li­copters, Finally

India Strategic - - CONTENTS - By Gul­shan Luthra

NEW DELHI. The Gov­ern­ment has sanc­tioned six Boe­ing Apache AH 64E at­tack he­li­copters for the In­dian Army, mark­ing a be­gin­ning for its Avi­a­tion Corps for th­ese fly­ing tanks. The Army had ac­tu­ally pro­jected a re­quire­ment of 39 at­tack he­li­copters, 13 for each of its three Strike Corps, but has been given ap­proval in prin­ci­ple for 33 ma­chines. It was also de­cided that 11 Apaches un­der the Op­tions clause in the In­dian Air Force (IAF) con­tract for 22 Apaches would go to the Army but only six of th­ese are be­ing taken. Un­der the Op­tions clause, valid till Septem­ber 2017, In­dia can buy 11 ma­chines, or 50 per cent of those or­dered, at the same price as those con­tracted for IAF in 2015. The op­tion for the re­main­ing five is now lapsed.

The six Apaches will cost Rs 4168 Crores ( ap­prox. $ 640 mil­lion) with weapons and spares.

De­liv­ery for most de­fence equip­ment glob­ally is 36 months af­ter the first pay­ment is made to seal the con­tract. The 22 Apaches or­dered by IAF are al­ready un­der con­struc­tion at the Boe­ing fa­cil­ity in Mesa, Ari­zona.

MoD sources in­di­cated that the Gov­ern­ment is try­ing to clear var­i­ous back­logs. Hence the best pos­si­ble use is be­ing made of avail­able funds and for the time be­ing, only six Apaches are be­ing taken. All the three Ser­vices ac­tu­ally have long pend­ing re­quire­ments, and fund­ing has to be ra­tio­nalised for the com­ing next years.

Ac­cord­ing to sources, the Army Avi­a­tion Corps’ pro­jec­tion is for 33 Boe­ing Apaches, 114 HAL Light Com­bat He­li­copters (LCH) and about 70 Ru­dras, the armed ver­sion of HAL Ad­vanced Light He­li­copter (ALH).

Re­act­ing to the MoD’s an­nounce­ment, Boe­ing In­dia Pres­i­dent Pratyush Ku­mar said: “Boe­ing wel­comes the op­por­tu­nity to sup­port the In­dian Army on their re­quire­ments. The AH64E Apache is the world’s most ad­vanced mul­ti­role com­bat he­li­copter. With this de­vel­op­ment, we look for­ward to sup­port­ing all three In­dian de­fense forces – the Air Force, Navy and now the Army.”

He pointed out, sig­nif­i­cantly, that “un­der Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s Make in In­dia ini­tia­tive, AH-64 Apache fuse­lages and other aero struc­tures are (now) be­ing man­u­fac­tured at the Tata Boe­ing Aero­space joint ven­ture fa­cil­ity in Hy­der­abad.”

No­tably, the AH 64E model is the lat­est and also now be­ing in­ducted by the US Army. Sim­i­larly, the Boe­ing P 8I, another for­mi­da­ble air­craft, to hunt sub­marines, has been in­ducted nearly at the same time by the US and In­dian navies.

With its lat­est war tech­nolo­gies, the Boe­ing

Apache is deadly for an en­emy be­cause of its multi- role, multi- mis­sion day- and- night all weather strike ca­pa­bil­ity. Be­cause of its Lock­heed Martin Long­bow com­bat radar, the he­li­copter’s pi­lots can lo­cate an en­emy hid­den deep in fo­liage and neu­tralise the tar­get with pre­ci­sion at­tack Hell­fire – also by Lock­heed Martin – mis­siles.

For air-to-air de­fence, it is equipped with Raytheon’s fa­mous Stinger mis­siles, which are also on of­fer to In­dia for its in­dige­nous Light Com­bat He­li­copter (LCH) if In­dia opts for them.

Then of course, there are rock­ets and ma­chine guns, tar­get ac­qui­si­tion and night vi­sion sys­tems, en­abling its two pi­lots to lit­er­ally make the mince­meat of a tar­get.

Nor­mally, one out of every three Apaches is equipped with the Long­bow com­bat radar, but then, it is up to a user to en­hance or re­duce this re­quire­ment. The ex­act fig­ure for th­ese radars for In­dian forces is not known.

Boe­ing has sold more than 2,200 Apaches since 1986 with manda­tory ap­proval from the US Gov­ern­ment un­der its For­eign Mil­i­tary Sales (FMS) pro­gramme for com­bat sys­tems.

It may be noted that IAF op­er­ates its com­bat he­li­copters – at present Soviet vin­tage Mi 35s – in co­or­di­na­tion with the Army, and there are al­ways some Army of­fi­cers posted in IAF units ac­cord­ingly. In case of hos­til­i­ties, all the IAF and Army as­sets work to­gether, and so would the 22 + 6 Apaches. The Apache is pow­ered by two Gen­eral Elec­tric gas tur­bine en­gines and can be in the air for three hours. It has ca­pa­bil­ity to search and at­tack mul­ti­ple tar­gets si­mul­ta­ne­ously. Se­cure fre­quency hop­ping ter­res­trial and satel­lite con­nec­tiv­ity on­board is stan­dard while its fuel tanks are self-seal­ing in case of a hit.

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