In the midst of India’s tense border standoff with China, US aerospace major Boeing delivered the final five of the 22 Apache attack helicopters to the Indian Air Force around two weeks ago, and the entire fleet is now part of the assets deployed in key air bases along the Line of Actual Control, officials said on Friday.
Boeing said it completed delivery of all 22 Apache and 15 Chinook military helicopters to the IAF and is fully committed to meet the operational needs of the Indian armed forces.
The AH-64E Apache is one of the world’s most advanced multi-role combat helicopters and is flown by the US Army. The Chinook is a multi-role, vertical-lift platform, primarily used for transporting troops, artillery, equipment and fuel.
India signed a multi-billion dollar contract with Boeing to procure 22 Apache helicopters and 15 Chinooks for the IAF in September 2015. Another contract for the acquisition of six Apaches for the Indian Army was signed during President Donald Trump’s visit here in February.
Both the Apache and Chinook helicopters have been pressed into service as part of the IAF’s deployment along the LAC in view of the bitter standoff with China in eastern Ladakh, officials said.
The helicopters are being used primarily to transport troops to various forward locations in eastern Ladakh where Indian and Chinese militaries were on a eight-week standoff. Both sides have completed disengagement from three major friction points this week.
“With this delivery of military helicopters, we continue to nurture this partnership and are fully committed to working closely with India’s defence forces to deliver the right value and capabilities to meet their operational needs,” said Surendra Ahuja, Managing Director, Boeing Defence India.
India is one of 17 nations to select the Apache and has the most advanced variant, the AH-64E Apache.
Defence and security ties between India and the US have been on an upswing in the last six years. The bilateral defence trade touched USD 18 billion mark in 2019, reflecting growing defence cooperation between the two sides.
Both sides have also been pushing for joint venture and collaboration between private sectors of the two countries in defence manufacturing.
In June 2016, the US had designated India a “Major Defence Partner,” intending to elevate defence trade and technology sharing with New Delhi to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.
In a statement, Boeing said the AH-64E Apache has an improved modernised target acquisition designation system that provides day and night target tracking system.
“In addition to classifying air and ground targets, the fire control radar has been updated to operate in the maritime environment. It is uniquely suited to meet a commander’s needs, including reconnaissance, security, peacekeeping operations, and lethal attack, across myriad environments – without reconfiguration,” the Boeing said.
It said 20 defence forces around the world either have Chinooks in service, or are on contract to receive them.
“The iconic tandem-rotor helicopter has been the world’s most reliable and efficient heavy-lift helicopter for more than 50 years, allowing customers to operate in climatic (hot), altitude (high), and crosswind conditions,” the company said.
It said the CH-47F(I) Chinook contains a modern machined airframe, a common avionics architecture system cockpit, and a digital automatic flight control system.
“Those innovations and technologies will help the Indian Air Force meet evolving mission demands, maximize interoperability, and reduce life-cycle costs,” it said.
Boeing’s joint venture with Tata in Hyderabad has been producing aero-structures for the AH-64 Apache helicopter for both US Army and international customers.