Apache helicopter

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) is reportedly close to signing two contracts worth more than $2.5bn with the US for the supply of Apache and Chinook helicopters.

An unnamed MoD official was quoted by The Times of India as saying that the two Indian Air Force (IAF) deals would be put forward for clearance before the first defence acquisitions council (DAC) meeting to be chaired by the new defence minister Arun Jaitley on 19 July.

"Thereafter, the cases will be moved for the cabinet committee on security’s final nod," the official said.

The first $1.4bn contract covers delivery of 22 AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters, while 15 CH-47F Chinooks equipped with contra-rotating tandem rotors will be supplied under the second $1.1bn deal.

The Apache deal is hybrid, with one contract to be signed with Boeing for helicopters, and another with the US Government for 812 AGM-114L-3 Hellfire missiles, 542 AGM-114R-3 Hellfire-II missiles, 245 Stinger Block I-92H missiles and 12 AN/APG-78 fire-control radars.

"The Indian Army will also pursue a follow-on order for three Apache attack helicopter squadrons."

Another defence official told the news agency that the Indian Army will also pursue a follow-on order for three Apache attack helicopter squadrons following the signing of IAF contract.

"The Army hopes to get its Apaches, armed with guided missiles, cannons and rockets to target enemy tanks and infantry on the ground, by 2018," the official said.

The Apache contract is likely to get bigger after the army received ‘in principle’ approval earlier this year for assuming the ownership for 39 Apaches for its own "strike" formations, according to the news agency.

The Apaches are expected to replace IAF’s ageing Russian-built Mi-25/35 helicopter fleet, which is also used by the army for its requirements.

Image: A US AH-64D Apache attack helicopter on a reconnaissance mission over Baghdad, Iraq. Photo: courtesy of Army.mil.

Defence Technology