According to sources the talks for the additional six helicopters have reached the Cabinet Committee for Security’s clearance.
An order for six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for the Indian Army is expected to be placed in the next financial year. The deal estimated to be for around $930 million will be through Foreign Military Sales and is in addition to the 22 which are coming for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
According to sources the talks for the additional six helicopters have reached the Cabinet Committee for Security’s clearance. Once the deal is finalised the delivery of these helicopters will start once the IAF receives the 22 machines it has ordered. The Indian Army is also waiting for the delivery of the indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) from the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited along with the IAF.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by then Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had given approval for buying six Apache attack helicopters in 2017.
India is using the optional clause which was part of the agreement signed for the 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters in November 2015 worth Rs 13,951.57crore which are coming through the FMS route.
As has been reported earlier in the contract inked between India and the US and M/S Boeing Company, there is also a clause for a follow on order for 11 more helicopters. However, the approval has been given for just six helicopters for the Indian Army.
Earlier this year in June, the US State Department had put its stamp of approval for an additional sale of Apache Helicopters which are meant for the Indian Army. This was followed by the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA)’s notification to the US Congress stating that the deal would be for around $ 930 million.
The IAF has already inducted the first batch of eight Apaches Helicopters which are based in Pathankot and as per the contract the delivery of the balance is expected to be completed by 2020. These helicopters in the IAF are replacing the Russian MI25/35 gunships which are in the process of being phased out.
At present, the Army Aviation Corps is operating indigenous Cheetah and ALH (Advanced Light Helicopters) which weigh less than five tonnes and are being manufactured at HAL. The Apache AH64 (I) which has been upgraded and modified as per the specifications and requirements of the IAF can create havoc on the enemy and can blunt their thrust and these helicopters can be used in various roles and different terrains.
The helicopters for IAF are coming with potent armaments including – Hellfire anti-tank missiles, Air to air missiles, rockets and the chin-mounted gun. Also, through the IAF’s Integrated Air Command and Control System with other combat assets radar pictures can be shared.