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Apache helicopters to sharpen Indian Army’s aerial edge

Adding muscle to the Indian Army’s aerial firepower, the US government has agreed to sell six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters to India. According to a statement issued by the US State Department on Tuesday, Washington has approved the deal worth $930 million to sell six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters.

India’s defence acquisition council had approved the proposal in August 2017, but the agreement was awaiting the approval of the US Congress.

The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency, in a statement issued, said, ”The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to India of items in support of a proposed direct commercial sale of six (6) AH-64E Apache helicopters for an estimated cost of $930 million.”

The Indian Army has plans to have such 39 Apache attack helicopters along with 100 Rudra choppers, designed and developed by HAL. Presently, the Indian Army operates around 400 Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, which are generally called a lifeline for soldiers deployed at high-altitude, inaccessible posts. Besides, the Army has fleet of indigenous Dhruv light combat helicopters.

The Indian Air Force had ordered 22 Apache helicopters from the US in 2015 in a separate deal.

Called ‘flying tanks’, Apache attack helicopters will be a major component in tank battles for the Indian Army, especially on the western front with Pakistan.

Manufactured by Boeing, the Apache helicopters, fitted with air-to-air missiles, are capable of detecting 256 moving targets and engaging them. The Apache is a twin-engine helicopter operated by two pilots.

With its array of modern electronics, the Apache is considered to be one of the most advanced combat helicopters. Apaches were involved in missions during the 1991 Gulf War between the US and Iraq and then in Afghanistan. The Indian Army will be the 14th country to operate these attack helicopters, which are expected to be delivered in 2019.

“The proposed sale is in conjunction with and in support of a proposed direct commercial sale of six AH-64E Apache helicopters, and will strengthen India’s ability to defend its homeland and deter regional threats. This support for the AH-64E will provide an increase in India’s defensive capability to counter ground-armoured threats and modernise its armed forces. India will have no difficulty absorbing the helicopters and support equipment into its armed forces,” according to the statement of the US State Department.

Apart from helicopters, the State Department also gave approval for the sale of 14 T700-GE-701D engines, four AN and APG-78 fire control radars, four radar electronic units Block III, four AN/APR-48B modernized radar frequency interferometers, 180 AGM-114L-3 Hellfire longbow missiles, 90 AGM-114R-3 Hellfire II missiles, 200 Stinger block I-92H missiles, seven modernised target acquisition designation sight and pilot night vision sensors (MTADS-PNVS) and 14 embedded GPS inertial navigation systems (EGI).

The US statement further stated that this proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of an important partner, which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in South Asia.

“The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region,”statement added.

Also included are rockets, training and dummy missiles, 30mm cannons and ammunition, transponders, simulators, communication equipment, spare and repair parts, tools and test equipment, support equipment, repair and return support, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation.

According to an estimate, India has ordered defence equipment worth $15 billion from the US in the last ten years (Since 2008). Military purchases from US include C-130J and C17 heavy transport aircraft, M777 howitzers, P8I maritime surveillance aircraft and Harpoon missiles.

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