Source: The Indian Express
Eight Apache AH-64E stealth attack helicopters, among the most advanced military flying machines in the world, joined the Indian Air Force, providing a significant boost to its combat capabilities at a time of complex security challenges.
How do the Apaches enhance the attack helicopter capabilities of the IAF at this stage, since it already has the Russian Mi-24/Mi-35 gunships in its inventory?
One of the major reasons why the IAF decided to go in for the Apaches is their ability to operate at much higher altitudes than the aging Russian attack helicopters and, of course, because of the advanced technical abilities that come with the American-made Apache helicopter. The Russian Mi-35 could not operate in the Kargil conflict at the heights that the IAF wanted it to be used in support of the Army.
The Russian Mi-35 were made for an era when a dual role was envisaged for them. Thus, in addition to their attack role, they have cabin space for eight soldiers, who can be speedily dropped behind enemy positions. The Apache does not have any cargo role, and is, in comparison, smaller and more nimble.
Among the Apache’s modern capabilities are the ability to shoot fire-and-forget anti-tank missiles, air-to-air missiles, rockets, and other munitions. It also has modern electronic warfare capabilities to provide versatility in network-centric aerial warfare.
So, how many Apaches will replace the IAF’s Mi-35s?
IAF had signed a contract with aerospace major Boeing and the United States government in 2015 for 22 Apache AH-64Es. The first eight of these attack helicopters have been delivered on schedule, and the last of the choppers is to be delivered by March 2020. In addition to these machines, another six helicopters are being procured for the Indian Army.
Will all the Apaches be in flyaway condition, or does the deal involve local production?
The Apaches are being received in a semi-flyaway condition, as were the Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, also manufactured by Boeing. After affixing their rotors, the aircraft are able to fly on their own.