AH-64E (I) Apache Guardian helicopter

Context

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has received its first Apache Guardian helicopter from Boeing during a ceremony at the company’s production facility in Arizona, US , in May 2019.

The aircraft is part of the 22 Apache helicopters that India agreed to buy from the firm under a contract signed in September 2015.  In 2017, the Indian MoD cleared a deal worth Rs41.68bn ($590.62m) to purchase six Apache helicopters and weapon systems from Boeing.

Indian government had placed an order for 22 in September 2015. Photo: Twitter/@IAF_MCC

How it will boost the IAF’s capabilities?

Addition of the Apache to the Indian Air Force adds a lethal punch to its capabilities given that the Apache is a stealthy, versatile machine, designed for all kinds of missions. It comes equipped with laser and infrared systems for day-night operations and armed with air to surface Hellfire missiles, 70 mm rockets and an automatic cannon.

The procurement of the helicopter is expected to boost the IAF’s efforts to modernise its helicopter fleet. The helicopter is designed to offer significant capability in mountainous terrain. The service can use the chopper to conduct precision attacks at standoff ranges and operate in hostile airspace with threats from the ground.

In addition, these helicopters have the ability to transmit and receive the battlefield picture, to and from the weapon systems through data networking. These attack helicopters will provide significant edge in any future joint operations in support of land forces.

Apache vs  Mi 35

The Apache is seen as the first attack helicopter in India’s defence arsenal . India has been operating the Russian origin Mi 35 for years and the Apaches are to the replace the Russian made choppers that are now on the verge of being taken out of service. The Mi-35 was seen as assault chopper designed to carry troops into heavily defended territories. The two pilot Apache on the other hand is seen as a dedicated attack chopper that will be a “game changer” in the tactical battle scenario.

India gets its first Apache helicopter. Photo: Twitter/@IAF_MCC

Nations using AH-64 Apache attack helicopters

Boeing has so far delivered more than 2,200 AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to the US and other nations, including Egypt, Greece, Japan, the Netherlands, Qatar, Singapore, the UAE and the UK.