The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Tuesday formally inducted eight AH-64E Apache attack helicopters into service at the Pathankot Air Force Station. Apache is the most advanced multi-role heavy attack helicopter in the world.
“Apache attack helicopters are being purchased to replace the Mi-35 fleet. Alongside the capability to shoot fire and forget anti-tank guided missiles, air-to-air missiles, rockets and other ammunitions, it also has modern Electronic Warfare (EW) capabilities to provide versatility to helicopters in a network-centric aerial warfare,” said IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa at the induction ceremony.
He stated that these helicopters had been modified specifically to suit the exacting standards demanded by the IAF and noted that the delivery schedule is on time.
“Today with the induction of the Apache AH-64E the IAF has upgraded its inventory to the latest generation of attack helicopters,” ACM Dhanoa added. The Apaches will be part of the 125 Helicopter Unit at Pathankot.
“The Apaches arrived at the Air Force Station, Hindan, in July this year, in batches of four, over two days, and were then transported to the Air Force Station, Pathankot in Punjab, to await their formal induction,” the helicopter manufacturer Boeing said in a statement. India is the 16th nation to select the Apache and the AH-64E is the most advanced variant, Boeing added.
Selected aircrew and ground crew had already undergone training at the training facilities at U.S. Army base Fort Rucker in Alabama before the arrival of the helicopters in India and these personnel would lead the operationalisation of the Apache fleet, IAF had said earlier.
India contracted 22 Apache helicopters from the U.S. government and Boeing in September 2015 and the entire fleet will be in service with the IAF by 2020. The government has also cleared the acquisition of six additional Apaches for the Indian Army which has been formally approved by the U.S.
The helicopter is capable of delivering a variety of weapons which include air-to-ground Hellfire missiles, 70 mm Hydra rockets and air-to-air Stinger missiles, the IAF said in a statement. Apache also carries one 30 mm chain gun with 1,200 rounds as part of area weapon sub-system and to “add to the lethality of the helicopter” it carries fire control radar, which has a 360 degree coverage and nose mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems, the IAF added.