New Delhi: US aerospace giants Boeing handed over first of the 22 Apache Guardian attack helicopters to the Indian Air Force, nearly three-and-half years after a multi-billion-dollar deal for the choppers was sealed.
As per IAF officials, the addition of AH-64E (I) Apache helicopter is a significant step towards modernization of the force's chopper fleet. The helicopter has been customized to suit IAF's future requirements and would have significant capability in mountainous terrain.
According to IAF spokesperson Captain Anupam Banerjee, “The first AH-64E (I) - Apache Guardian helicopter was formally handed over to the Indian Air Force at Boeing production facility in Mesa, Arizona, the US on May 10.”
The chopper will be operated by selected pilots of the IAF. The IAF said, “Selected aircrew and ground crew have undergone training at the training facilities at US Army base Fort Rucker, Alabama. These personnel will lead the operationalization of the Apache fleet in the IAF.”
It said the ability of these choppers, to transmit and receive the battlefield picture, to and from the weapon systems through data networking makes it a lethal acquisition.
"These attack helicopters will provide significant edge in any future joint operations in support of land forces," the IAF added.
The Defense Ministry in 2017 approved the procurement of six Apache helicopters along with weapons systems from Boeing at a cost of Rs 4,168 crore for the Army. This will be its first fleet of attack choppers.
Fuselages for this Army order will be produced by Tata Boeing Aerospace Limited, a joint venture between Boeing and Tata Advanced Systems in Hyderabad.