New Delhi. Indian Air Force will induct the first four AH-64E (I) Apache helicopters ahead of Independence day next month with the US based aerospace giant Boeing having delivered four of these machines and they have to be re-assembled here, go through several rounds of tests before being inducted.
The whole delivery of the 22 machines purchased for $1.1 billion through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route will be completed by March 2020. They will be based in Pathankot and in the North East region replacing the existing Russian Mi-35, in service and used as an assault helicopter and for ferrying troops.
These helicopters have been customised as per the requirements of the IAF which is in the process of modernising its fleets and also to give a significant edge to the IAF in any future joint operations in support of land forces. The contract between the two governments and M/s Boeing Company also has an option to buy 11 additional helicopters.
Both the air and ground crew who had been identified by the IAF for the operations of the Apache fleet have undergone intensive training at the training facilities at US Army base Fort Rucker, Alabama.
Major sections of these machines have been manufactured in India and by Indian companies including Bengaluru based Dynamatic Technologies Ltd, one of the first Indian companies in the private sector to be approved by Boeing to be a supplier and the Tata- Boeing joint venture which has built the complete fuselage. Besides the frame, electrical panels, wire harness and many other components of these helicopters have been made in India.
There has been a huge investment by the American Company in the development of an active aerospace ecosystem in India, with the participation of almost 160 existing industrial partners.
These helicopters have the capability of operating in the mountainous terrain, and can carry out precision attacks at ranges. According to the IAF, these helicopters are capable of operating in hostile airspace and handle threats from the ground.
These machines with data networking can transmit and receive the battlefield picture, to and from the weapon systems, thus making it a lethal acquisition. These helicopters will be loaded with Hellfire Longbow missiles, Stinger Block I-92H missiles, night vision sensors, and inertial navigation systems. The Trump administration has already given approval for the sales of these to India.