IAF gets first Apache Guardian attack helicopter from US

The Indian Air Force (IAF) was formally handed over its first AH-64E (I)-Apache Guardian helicopter at the Boeing production facility in Mesa, Arizona, USA. The first batch of about four-six Apache helicopters will be delivered to India in July 2019.

About ‘AH-64E Apache’

  • Background: In September 2015, India and US signed a deal worth $3 billion (at current prices) for inducting 22 Apaches Helicopters in Indian Air Force (IAF) by March 2020. The IAF has bought the latest version of the Apache, called as the AH-64E (I) Apache Guardian.
  • Made In US: In Apache deal there is no transfer of technology or “Make in India” component. The helicopter is entirely built in the US. But, US Army is providing training to IAF pilots and maintenance personnel (who will operate Apache fleet) at Fort Rucker, Alabama, US.
  • Features:
    • The AH-64E Apache is flown by the US Army and is one of the leading multi-role attack helicopters globally. It is even dubbed as the “flying tank”.
    • It is widely acknowledged as the world’s most lethal combat helicopter.
    • It has flown about a million mission hours in various conflicts, like from fighting in First Gulf War (in 1991) to ongoing fighting in Afghanistan.
    • It is armed with Hellfire Longbow air-to-ground missiles, stinger air-to-air missiles, guns and rockets.
    • It can be operated both by day and also by night with equal effectiveness. It can fly just metres above the ground and shelter behind trees and sand dunes.
    • It has advanced Longbow radar which can pick up enemy armoured vehicles and can then destroy them with air-to-surface rockets or anti-tank missiles or a chain gun that sends about 625 rounds per minute tearing into targets.
    • It has improved survivability, joint digital operability and cognitive decision-aiding.
  • Importance: The addition of AH-64 E (I) helicopter is a step towards modernisation of IAF’s helicopter fleet. The helicopter handed over to India has been customised to suit IAF’s future requirements and would also have significant capability in mountainous terrain. Also, the Apache is capable of transmitting and receiving battlefield picture to and from weapon systems by using data networking, this makes it a lethal acquisition.

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