- Government clears purchase of six Apache helicopters for army
- They will be used on western front, expected to join service in 2021
- Army wants to reduce dependency on Air Force for its missions
NDTV has learnt that the army's Apaches will be deployed on the Western Front in support of tank formations in a role similar to that of Indian Air Force helicopters. The first Apaches are expected to enter service with the army in 2021.
In 2015, India bought 22 Apache and 15 heavy-lift Chinook helicopters from Boeing for $3 billion. The new deal includes associated equipment, spares, training, weapons and ammunition.
The helicopters the army has ordered are armed with anti-tank missiles, rockets and a 30 mm gun. The AH-64E is capable of destroying tanks or hardened structures which it detects through a several sensors which enable the chopper to be used both during the day and night in any weather condition.
For years, the army has been trying to convince the Defence Ministry that it needs it's own integral attack helicopters so that it doesn't need to call in the Indian Air Force for its operations. Though army pilots have been deputed to Mi-35 attack helicopter squadrons of the Indian Air Force, this is the first time that the army has got the go-ahead to acquire its own state-of-the art attack choppers.
Before the arrival of the Apache and the LCH, the army has already made operational its first squadron of Rudra helicopters, a weaponised variant of the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) called the Dhruv. The first squadron of Rudra choppers has been made operational in a Holding Corps, a defensive formation in the Western sector facing Pakistan.