NEW DELHI: The Indian Air Force’s first batch of four Apache AH-64E (I) attack helicopters were brought to the Hindon air force station in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad on Saturday. “The four helicopters were brought in an AN-124 transport aircraft.” said an Air Force officer. Only one helicopter was taken out after a brief prayer ceremony due to the rains in the National Capital Region.
The helicopters will be assembled at Hindon and will be jointly flight tested. The next four Apaches will join them by the end of July. All eight Apaches will fly together to parent air base at Pathankot for formal induction into the IAF in September. “The addition of these attack helicopters will strengthen the air force’s combat capability,” said the officer.
US aerospace company Boeing will be delivering 22 Apaches to India by 2020. These 22 helicopters will be divided into two squadrons of 11 helicopters each. While one squadron is being raised in Pathankot along the western border, the other will be based at Jorhat, Assam to cover areas along the northern border.
While the contract for supplying these helicopters was signed in September 2015, the acquisition of additional six Apaches was cleared by India in 2017. These six helicopters will be for the Army.
The AH-64E Apache (I), manufactured for the IAF, completed successful first flights in July 2018. The same year, the first batch of IAF crew began training to fly the Apache in Fort Rucker in the US. This group of pilots will lead the operationalisation of the IAF’s Apache fleet.“By 2020, the IAF will operate a fleet of 22 Apaches, and these first deliveries are ahead of schedule,” Boeing said, adding that these helicopters has the latest technology insertions.
The Apache can carry out precision attacks at standoff ranges and operate in hostile airspace. Equipped to transmit and receive battlefield picture, these helicopters can be used for multi-role tasks, including reconnaissance, security, peacekeeping operations, and lethal attack in both land and littoral environments. About 2,200 Apaches operate around the world, with India being the 14th nation to induct the Apache.