NEW DELHI: In an attempt to add lethal firepower to the army, the Ministry of Defence on Thursday cleared the proposal to buy six Apache attack helicopters at a cost of Rs 4,168 crore.
Proposal to buy attack helicopter was the long pending demand of Army, as for years, the Army and the IAF have been sparring over who should operate this future fleet of Apache copters. IAF is getting the first lot of Boeing made 22 Apache attack helicopters, approved by defence ministry in September 2015, will be delivered by early next year. Boeing had won the bid in an open competition beating the Russian built Mi-28-H. IAF will deploy these two squadrons on eastern sector facing China.
Army has been maintaining the stand that an aggressive air support is crucial for advancing ground troops in a short and intense war, which Indian military is asked to be prepared. Only last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government has allowed Indian Army to make ‘emergency procurements’ without going to red-tapism to be prepared for a ‘short intense war’.
Equipped with laser and infrared systems for a weather, day-night operability, the Apache fires the Hellfire air-to air missiles, besides its arsenal of 70 mm rockets and an automatic cannon. Apache helicopters are capable of detecting 256 moving targets and engaging them, the twin-engine Apache is operated by two pilots.
Proposal to buy six Apache for Army was given go ahead at a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, the highest body of military acquisition in the ministry.
Besides, Apache, DAC also cleared a proposal to procure two gas turbine engines for naval ships at a cost of Rs 490 crore.
In 2014, the MoD had an in-principle agreement allow attack helicopters for the Army. Till now, the Army has only ‘non-armed’ helicopters.
Apache attack helicopter: At a glance
Armed with fire-and-forget Hellfire missiles, the Apache attack choppers can track up to 128 targets in a minute and prioritise threats. These missiles equip the helicopter gunships with heavy anti-armour capabilities
The stealthy, versatile chopper is designed for all kinds of missions. Equipped with laser and infrared systems for a weather, day-night operability, the Apache fires the Hellfire missiles, besides its arsenal of 70 mm rockets and an automatic cannon.
Described as the most lethal attack helicopter in the world, the Apache has been in service since 1984 with over 2,100 machines produced.