The Defense Acquisitions Council (DAC) of the Ministry of Defense has cleared the acquisition of six Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for the Indian Army, on Thursday, for an eventual order estimated to be worth around USD 650 million.
India has already ordered 22 Apache helicopters for the Indian Air Force (IAF) for USD 2.2 billion, which Boeing is expected to begin delivering in 2019. Boeing has also set-up a joint venture with Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) for the manufacture of the Apache fuselage which will be part of the global supply chain. Ground was broken on this facility last year and the first fuselage is expected to be delivered in June 2018.
Boeing India President Pratyush Kumar said of the decision, “Boeing welcomes the opportunity to support the Indian Army on their requirements. The AH-64E Apache is the world’s most advanced multi-role combat helicopter. With this development, we look forward to supporting all three Indian defense forces – the Air Force, Navy and now the Army. It’s noteworthy that under Prime Minister Modi’s Make in India initiative, AH-64 Apache fuselages and other aero structures are being manufactured at the Tata Boeing Aerospace joint venture facility in Hyderabad.”
This approval comes after a long battle between the IAF and the army for the ownership of the rotary combat aviation arm. The Indian Army has long argued that because of the nature of their role in Close Air Support and potential airborne cavalry, helicopter gunships should be operated by the Army Aviation Corps to support infantry, armor and counter-insurgency operations.
The IAF has held that it has always had ownership of military rotary aviation in India and that surrendering ownership of the skillset and infrastructure for maintaining and operating attack helicopters because of the army’s current set of priorities would be a mistake.
The DAC had earlier approved the acquisition of 39 Apache helicopters by the Indian Army for three squadrons, a number which has now dropped to six – less than half a squadron. India has an option for 11 additional helicopters under the terms of the contract for the initial order of 22 helicopters and the current army requirement is expected to be fulfilled from this.
Earlier this year, Raytheon was awarded a contract by the U.S. government to deliver 245 Stinger missiles for the IAF Apache helicopters.
Here’s everything you wanted to know about the AH-64E Apache for India.