NEW DELHI: The Army is now gearing up for the induction of its own six heavy-duty Apache attack helicopters, armed with Stinger air-to-air missiles, Hellfire Longbow air-to-ground missiles, guns and rockets, under the Rs 5,691 crore deal inked with the US in February 2020.
The deliveries of the six AH-64E Apache attack choppers, often called “tanks in the air”, will take place in batches in the February-June timeframe next year.They will follow 22 such helicopters already inducted by theIAF, under the Rs 13,952 crore deal inked in September 2015, to provide “integrated combat aviation cover to strike corps of the Army”, an officer said.
The new induction comes even as the Army and IAF have finalised a plan to order 156 more indigenous ‘Prachand’ light combat helicopters, which are capable of offensive operations in high-altitude areas like Siachen Glacier and eastern Ladakh, from defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), as was reported by TOI in September.
As per the proposal, which will soon be taken up by the Rajnath Singh-led defence acquisitions council, the Army will get 90 of the new Prachand choppers, while 66 are meant for the IAF. These will add to the 15 such choppers (10 IAF and 15 Army) already inducted after the Cabinet Committee on Security cleared the first Rs 3,887 crore contract in March last year.
The Apache helicopters, of course, are much bigger and more lethal. “The Apaches are capable of delivering a variety of weapons, which include Hellfire and Stinger missiles as well as 70mm Hydra rockets,” the officer said.
“The chopper also carries a 30mm chain gun with 1,200 rounds as part of an area weapon sub-system. To add to the lethality, the Apache has a fire control radar, with a 360° coverage, and nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night-vision systems,” he added.
The Apache are the third iconic helicopters to be inducted by the Indian armed forces. While IAF has inducted 15 heavy-lift Chinook choppers for Rs 8,048 crore, the Navy has got the first lot of the 24 submarine-hunting MH-60 “Romeo” multi-mission helicopters under another contract worth Rs 15,157 crore inked in February 2020.

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