NEW DELHI: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US visit, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Tuesday cleared the proposal to procure 22 Apache AH-64D attack helicopters and 15 Chinook CH-47F heavy lift helicopters from Boeing, the American multi-national corporation.
According to sources, the two deals together are expected to cost $2.5 billion (Rs 15,000 crore) to the exchequer. Decks for the multi-billion dollar deals were cleared last year after the Defence Acquisition Council approved off-set proposals.
The deals, which have been hanging fire since 2013, were set in motion in May this year when Air Force Chief Arup Raha visited the US to strengthen Indo-US bilateral defence cooperation. Subsequently, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, during his visit in June, sealed the deal though India had obtained three months extension from Boeing on its offer to maintain its quotation price. The extension was to expire on September 30.
According to sources, the contract will have two components — one with Boeing for the helicopters and second contract will be inked with the US government for the helicopters’ weapons and other equipment. The AH-64 Apache is the world’s most advanced multi-role combat helicopter and its longbow which India has decided to purchase has enhanced features including its better performance, improved survivability and cognitive decision aiding.
The Apache provides longer-range weapons accuracy, all-weather/night fighting and detection of objects without being detected.
It also has integrated sensors, networking, and digital communications for situational awareness, management of the combat arena in real time, and digital transmission of images and target locations to joint operations’ battlefield commanders. It also has enhanced capabilities of classification and threat-prioritisation of up to 128 targets in less than a minute.
On the other hand, CH-47 F Chinook, an American twin-engine, tandem rotor heavy-lift helicopter, contains fully integrated digital cockpit management system and advanced cargo-handling capabilities. Its primary mission is to move troops, artillery, ammunition, fuel, water, barrier materials, supplies and equipment on the battlefield. The Chinook has been in US Army service since 1962 and its models A, B and C were deployed in Vietnam. It also played crucial role for the US Army during the Gulf War.
The US has been pushing for this contract as it would further bolster American presence in the burgeoning defence market of India. merican companies have over the last decade bagged defence contracts from India worth around $10 billion.
(With agency inputs)