The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved a $654.6 million U.S. purchase for six Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters for the Indian Army.
Reuters reports that this is a follow-on order to India’s prior purchase of 22 AH-64E Apache Guardians (as well as 15 CH-47F Chinook) for the Indian Air Force (IAF) in September 2015.
In effect, the Indian Army will maintain a separate Apache fleet to the IAF. In May, The Hindu had reported that the Indian Army sought 11 of its own Apaches. It initially sought to acquire some of the IAF’s aircraft, but the IAF opposed the proposal, stressing that each Apache was essential for its requirements.
Retired IAF Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur told The Hindu that the IAF requires the Apaches for “specific … roles [such as] Special Heliborne Missions and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR).”
As per The Hindu, the Indian Army intends to build a fleet of 39 Apache attack helicopters, which will join 114 Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Light Combat Helicopters (LCH). The Apache and LCH will build-up the Indian Army’s close air support (CAS) coverage for ground operations.
The Guardian is the latest iteration of the AH-64 Apache heavyweight attack helicopter platform. Powered by two General Electric T700-701D turboshaft engines and can carry 16 anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM). The IAF’s Apache order included 812 AGM-114L-3 Hellfire Longbow and 542 AGM-114R3 Hellfire ATGMs, 245 Stinger Block I-92H missiles and 12 AN/APG-78 Fire Control Radars (among other systems).
Boeing is also an Indian commercial offset partner. As part of the 2015 purchase, Boeing – in collaboration with Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) – is constructing a production facility in Hyderabad’s Adibatla Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The plant will manufacture AH-64 fuselages and other subassemblies for the Indian Army and IAF as well as Boeing’s global supply chain.