Eight Boeing-manufactured AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters have entered service with the Indian Air Force (IAF) during a ceremony at the Pathankot airbase in the Indian state of Punjab.

Induction of the Apache helicopters will enhance the operational capabilities of the IAF.

The IAF’s AH-64E Apache Guardians completed maiden flights in July last year. The IAF sent a batch of pilots to the US last year to receive the necessary training to be able to fly the helicopters.

Speaking at the induction ceremony, IAF chief BS Dhanoa said: “This is an advanced multi-mission helicopter that is being operated worldwide by many countries.

“The platform has been flying since the 80s and has proved itself as an operational success across the globe. It is one of the most fierce attack choppers along with the capability to shoot, fire and forget ATGMs, rockets and other ammunition.”

The Apache helicopter will replace the airforce’s ageing Russian-made Mi-35 attack helicopters.

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Boeing was quoted by the Press Trust of India (PTI) as saying: “It is the only available combat helicopter with a spectrum of capabilities for virtually any mission requirement. For the AH-64 E, this includes greater thrust and lift, joint digital operability, improved survivability and cognitive decision aiding.

“It is uniquely suited to meet the commander’s needs, including reconnaissance, security, peacekeeping operations, and lethal attack, in both land and littoral environments, all without reconfiguration.”

The Indian Government signed a contract with Boeing in 2015 for the purchase of 22 AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters.

The helicopters are armed with a 30mm machine gun, anti-tank Hellfire missiles and rockets.

The first four of the helicopters were received last month at the Hindon airbase in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

By next year, the IAF will be able to operate a fleet of 22 Apache helicopters, according to Boeing.