In a major boost to the Indian Air Force, eight Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian Attack helicopters were inducted into the force on Tuesday. IAF chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa inducted the choppers into the service after a ceremony held at the Pathankot Air Force Station in Punjab.
The helicopters were inducted into the 125 Helicopter Unit ‘Gladiators’ of the Indian Air Force as part of a batch of 22 helicopters that will be procured from the United States. In September 2015, IAF had signed a contract with the US government and Boeing for these Apache helicopters. The delivery of the entire batch is expected to be completed by 2020, as stated in the contract.
The ceremonial key was handed over to Dhanoa by the Boeing company president.
Captain Daniel E Fillion, US Navy Chief, Office of Defense Cooperation present at the Pathankot Air Base said, "The United States is very happy for attending the induction ceremony. It's a great day for US-India bilateral defence relationship."
Furthermore, some of the major components of these machines have been made in India.
Agreement with Trump's administration
In June 2018, the US government under President Donald Trump approved a multi-billion dollar deal to sell the attack helicopters to India. In addition, the US also agreed to sell Hellfire and Stinger missiles to bolster India's ability to deter "regional threats."
The IAF completed successful first flights of the AH-64E Apache helicopters in July 2018. The first batch of IAF crew began their training to fly the Apache in the US in 2018.
Special features of the AH-64E Apache helicopters
The helicopters are equipped with hellfire missiles and rockets, with one helicopter having the capacity to carry 8 such missiles. It also has a canon gun with 1,200 rounds of firing capacity at a time along with which two missile pods carrying 19 missiles each can be fixed. The attack helicopter can also be used for reconnaissance.
The helicopters weigh 6,838 kilograms and span 17.15 feet.
The aircraft can transmit and receive battlefield pictures to and from the weapon systems through data networking, making it a lethal acquisition. These helicopters will provide a significant edge in any future joint operations in support of land forces.
The aerospace major said the AH-64E has the latest technology insertions, maintaining its standing as the world's best attack helicopter.
"It is the only available combat helicopter with a spectrum of capabilities for virtually any mission requirement. For the AH-64E, this includes greater thrust and lift, joint digital operability, improved survivability and cognitive decision aiding...It is uniquely suited to meet the commander's needs, including reconnaissance, security, peacekeeping operations, and lethal attack — in both land and littoral environments — all without reconfiguration," it said.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Sep 04, 2019 07:40:31 IST