India on Tuesday procured eight Boeing AH- 64E Apache Guardian Attack Helicopters from the US.
Eight helicopters were inducted into the Air Force in the first batch out of the 22 which India is set to acquire from the US. India in 2015 had signed a contract with US government and Boeing for these Apache helicopters.
The delivery of the rest of the 14 Apache's is expected to be completed by 2020.
IAF chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa inducted the choppers officially into service after a ceremony at the Pathankot Air Force Station.
The Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter was first developed in the 70s in the US and then sold to several countries around the world principally Israel, United Kingdom, Egypt and the Netherlands who have incorporated its fierce attack capabilities.
Now the choppers are also used by Greece, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Singapore making it a widely used lethal weapon across the globe during combat operation.
It was first developed by Hughes Helicopters to replace the AH-1 Cobra of the US Air Force. The prototype version took flight for the first time in September, 1975.
The US army gave its final approval for full production in 1982 and it was inducted into the US Army four years later.
Hellfire missiles and rockets
The Apache has been customized to suit the force's future requirements and would have significant capability in mountainous terrain with the capability to carry out precision attacks at standoff ranges and operate in hostile airspace with threats from the ground.
The choppers can transmit and receive battlefield pictures to and from the weapon systems through data networking making it a lethal acquisition.
The helicopters provide a significant edge in any joint operations in support of land forces.
The helicopters are equipped with Hellfire missiles and rockets, with one helicopter having the capacity to carry eight missiles.
2,200 Apache helicopters sold to various countries
It also has a canon gun with 1200 rounds of firing capacity at a time along with which two missile pods carrying 19 missiles each can be fixed.
The attack helicopter can also be used for reconnaissance.
The US has delivered around 2,200 Apache helicopters to various countries of the world.
India is its sixteenth customer, Boeing said. Importantly, some of the major components of these machines have been made in India.
125 Helicopter Squadron in Pathankot
India inducted the helicopters in the 125 Helicopter Squadron in Pathankot airbase near the Line of Control(LoC) with Pakistan.
The Apaches are known to have superior anti-armour attack capabilities.
It is regarded as a "tank buster" with lethal Hellfire missiles, crucially it can fly low ensuring it is not picked up easily by ground-based radars.
It effectively supports ground troops in action. The choppers have played pivotal roles in major battles including in Operation Desert Storm in Gulf War-I in 1991 and then ten years later in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Vertical rate of climb
Length maximum level flight speed.
Height 15.24 ft (4.64 m)
Wingspan 17.15 ft (5.227 m)
Primary mission gross weight 15,075 lb (6,838 kg)
Vertical rate of climb more than 2,000 feet per minute.
Maximum rate of climb more than 2,800 feet per minute.
Maximum level flight speed more than 150 knots.
Multi-billion dollar dollar with India
The total deal cost India $1.4 billion for 22 AH-64E which includes infrastructure, R&D, support equipment and training.
Each helicopter cost India $35.5 million which is approximately Rs 257 crore.
World’s best attack helicopter
India is the 16th nation to select the world’s best attack helicopter. It includes:
Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea
Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom,
The US Army Apache fleet has accumulated (as of Jan 2015) more than 3.9 million flight hours since the first AH-64A was delivered to the US Army in 1986.