The United States government had some time back approved a direct sale of six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, also known as Apache Guardian, to the Indian military for $930 million, according to a PTI report. The deal is expected to go forward if no US lawmaker opposes it. The six AH-64Es are for service in the Indian Army’s Aviation Corps (AAC) and expected to be delivered by 2020.
The deal also includes the sale of 180 AGM-114L-3 Hellfire Longbow missiles, 90 AGM-114R-3 Hellfire II missiles, 200 Stinger Block I-92H missiles, next to 30mm cannons and ammunition. The United States will offer logistical support services and training, according to ‘The Diplomat’.
This order of six AH-64E gunships is separate from India’s initial order in 2015 for 22 AH-64Es and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters for the Indian Air Force (IAF). Here’s a look at what India is getting to bolster its ability in the air:
1.Apache AH-64E is one of the most advanced multi-role combat helicopters, equipped with all-weather and night-fighting features apart from an advanced weapons system. The Apache has advanced laser, infrared, and target acquistion designation, including other systems, to locate, track and attack targets. It also has stealth characteristics, advanced sensors and beyond-visual-range missiles, according to a report on firstpost.com
2. According to a report on economictimes.indiatimes.com, It can “classify and prioritise” almost 128 targets in less than a minute and engage with 16 on land, sea and in the air in all weather environments and battlefield conditions. It can also detect 256 moving targets and engage them in the same time frame
3. The twin-engine Apache is operated by two pilots in separate cockpits so that if one cockpit is attacked, the other pilot may be able to control the chopper. Usually, the crew comprises a pilot and a gunner. According to the Wikipedia entry on the chopper, both crew members in the Apache are capable of performing both roles if they have to. The seats for crew members are crash-resistant
4. Apache can withstand 23mm cannon fire and has a self-sealing fuel tank that protects the chopper against the loss of fuel. Its 1100 kg airframe means it can withstand hits from guns of up to 12.7 mm caliber
5. According to Boeing’s official website, Apache Guardian is also equipped with anti-armoured guided Hellfire missiles (air-to-surface missiles that take out heavily armoured ground targets), Hydra 70 rocket pods (rocket launchers) and a 30mm automatic cannon with up to 1,200 high-explosive, dual-purpose ammunition rounds. It can carry as many as 16 missiles at a time.
6. It has two high-performance turboshaft engines. According to Boeing, the Apache has a maximum cruise speed of 284 kmph. The E-model flew in Afghanistan at speeds of about 279 miles per hour, according to a report.The faster speeds cut the amount of time it took aviators to reach front-line troops by a significant margin.
7. The AH-64E has infra-red suppressing exhaust system and is equipped with chaff and flare dispensers. Both of these features combined reduce the chance of being hit by enemy air defence missiles. Other technical specifications according to Boeing’s official website: Length – 15.24 ft (4.64 m), Wing Span – 17.15 ft (5.227 m), Primary Mission Gross Weight – 15,075 lb (6,838 kg), Vertical Rate of Climb – More than 2,000 ft per minute, Maximum Rate of Climb – More than 2,800 ft per minute, The AH-64E Apache has a four-blade main rotor and a four-blade tail rotor.
8. According to Boeing’s official website, the Apache is a tried and tested machine on the field. Since the induction of the first AH-64A in the US Army in April 1986, the US Army Apache feet has accumulated (as of August 2013) more than a million combat flight hours. It has a proven battlefield record going back to the early 1990s, also featuring in Gulf War.
9. Boeing has delivered more than 2,200 Apaches to customers around the world since the aircraft entered production. It has customers including countries like the United Kingdom, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. And now, India is likely to join that list.