The Indian Air Force was formally handed over the first Apache Guardian attack helicopter at a production facility of Boeing in Arizona, the United States, on Friday in a boost to New Delhi’s efforts to modernize its ageing fleet of the Air Force. Air Marshal AS Butola of the Indian Air Force accepted the first Apache in a ceremony in which representatives of the American government were also present, the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region said today in a statement.
The IAF had signed a contract with the US government and Boeing Ltd in September, 2015, for 22 Apache helicopters and the first batch of these helicopters is scheduled to be shipped to India by July this year, it said. Selected aircrew and ground crew of the IAF have undergone training at the training facilities at US Army base Fort Rucker, Alabama and these personnel will lead the operationalisation of the Apache fleet in the IAF, according to the statement.
Describing the addition of Apache Guardian as “a significant step towards modernisation of the Indian Air Force’s helicopter fleet,” the statement said “the helicopter has been customized to suit the IAF’s future requirements and would have significant capability in mountainous terrains.” “The helicopter has the capability to carry out precision attacks at standoff ranges and operate in hostile airspace with threats from ground.
The ability of these helicopters, to transmit and receive the battlefield picture, to and from the weapon systems through data networking makes it a lethal acquisition,” the statement said adding “these attack helicopters will provide significant edge in any future joint operations in support of land forces.” India has already bought Chinook transport helicopter, made by Boeing, from the US. The Chinook is a multi-role, vertical-lift platform used for transporting troops, artillery, equipment and fuel.