The Indian Army will soon gets its first attack helicopters, after the Defence Ministry on Thursday cleared purchase of six Apache attack choppers at a cost of around Rs 4,168 crore. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitely also cleared another proposal for buying gas turbines from Ukraine for two Admiral Grigorovich class ships being made in Russia for India. Overall, the DAC cleared proposals worth Rs 4,600 crore, sources said.
The six Apache AH-64E choppers will come with associated equipment which include spares, training, weapons and ammunition.
The Indian Army has long asked for its own fleet of attack helicopters, and the Army and IAF had previously locked horns over who would keep the fleet. Former Air Force Chief N.A.K. Browne had said as per a Joint Army Air Instruction (JAAI) of 1986, the IAF would operate helicopters of all kinds and Army’s charter was limited to light utility helicopters.
At present the fleet of Russian Mi-25 and Mi-35 attack helicopters are with the Indian Air Force, and used by the Indian Army.
The helicopters are being bought under an option clause of 50 percent repeat order in the previous deal under which 22 Apache attack choppers were bought for the IAF. The deadline for using the option clause is to end on September 28.
The other deal cleared by the DAC is for purchasing two gas turbine engines from Ukraine, which will then be given to Russia for two frigates that it is making for India. This will cost around Rs. 490 crore.
An inter-governmental agreement for four frigates through partnership between Russian and Indian shipyards was signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India in October last year.
While two frigates will come from Russia, two others will be constructed at an Indian shipyard with Russian cooperation.
The class’s original gas turbines were made by Ukrainian state-owned enterprise Zorya-Mashproekt. With tension continuing between the two nations, Ukraine has refused to supply any more engines to Russia.
Sources added that the Defence Minister also took stock of other procurement proposals, and said there should be close monitoring and expeditious clearance of pending capital acquisitions, specially for those which are in advanced stages.