India Approves First Apache Attack Helicopter Order for Army

NEW DELHI --- The Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Thursday approved purchase of six more attack helicopters to be procured as a follow on to the existing order of 22 ‘AH-64-E Apache’ copters from US-based giant Boeing.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the highest decision-making body of the MoD, sanctioned the project that is expected to cost Rs 4,168 crore.

The DAC assessed a request made by the Indian Army, which wants the MoD to exercise ‘option clause’ that allows the purchase of 11 more copters. The Defence Finance wing has its reservations and MoD approved six copters.

A high-level body called the Services Capital Acquisition Categorization Higher Committee (SCAPCHC), with representatives of the IAF and the Army, had decided that the 11 copters should be taken as the capability was needed. “The narrow matters of inter-service operations cannot hold back the use of the helicopters,” an official said.

The first lot of 22 copters approved by the MoD in September 2015 have been allocated to the IAF, the Army wants the follow-on order for itself. The US copter had won the bid in an open competition beating the Russian built Mi-28H.

For a number of years, the Army and the IAF have been sparring over who should operate this future fleet of Apache copters. The Army initially asked for the gunships to be inducted into its ranks, or for the IAF to at least share the helicopters with the ground forces. The Air Force, however, rejected both proposals.

In 2014, the MoD had an in-principle agreement allow attack helicopters for the Army. Till now, the Army has only ‘non-armed’ helicopters. The MoD has accepted the need to have some 39armed helicopters for the Army which will fly overhead when ground-based troops move in for attack. Such copters usually carry missiles.

The Apache for example, is armed with deadly Hellfire Longbow missiles, Hellfire-II missiles, Stinger missiles and fire-control radars.

Apart from the Apache, the Army is also looking at the Light Combat helicopter (LCH) being built by MoD owned Public sector undertaking. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The LCH It is currently under development and undergoing weapons integration. The Indian Army’s Aviation Corps has expressed its intention to acquire 114 helicopters, however, no contract has been signed so far.


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