Apache AH-64 v/s. MI-28 Havoc:- Which One is best attack helicopter for Indian Armed Forces
Armed with Hellfire and Stinger missiles, six Apache attack helicopters are set to become part of the Indian Army after the Defence Ministry on Thursday cleared a proposal to procure them.
The Army has been demanding such attack helicopters for a long time. The Army had originally sought the government’s approval for the acquisition of 11 Apache helicopters from the US.
In 2015, the Indian Airforce had inked a deal for 22 such choppers. According to reports, the IAF had strongly opposed the creation of a separate mini-Air wing by the Army.
The Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter is the most advanced multi-role heavy attack helicopter in the world.
When India set out to buy attack helicopters, it had to choose between the Apache AH-64D Longbow and the Russian made Mi-28N “Night Hunter”.
The Boeing AH-64 Apache is a four-blade, twin-turboshaft attack helicopter with a tailwheel-type landing gear arrangement and a tandem cockpit for a two-man crew. It features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems. It is armed with a 30 mm M230 chain gun carried between the main landing gear, under the aircraft’s forward fuselage.
Described as the most lethal attack helicopter in the world, the Apache has been in service since 1984 with over 2,100 machines produced. The version that India is purchasing is the latest Block III configuration that the US first got in 2011. India will purchase 22 of its latest version with latest Block III configuration at a cost of about $ 1.4 billion.
The Apache AH 64E Guardian helicopters are some of the most advanced multi-role combat helicopters, featuring all-weather and night-fighting features.
The radar automatically searches, detects, locates, classifies, and prioritizes fixed and moving targets on land, sea and in the air in all weather environments and battlefield conditions.
According to Boeing, the AH-64 is capable of classification and threat-prioritisation of upto 128 stationary targets in less than a minute and engage with 16. That’s right, 16. Apart from that the Apache AH-64E also has stealth characteristics, advanced sensors and beyond-visual-range missiles.
The AH-64E Apache has a four-blade main rotor and a four-blade tail rotor. The crew sits in tandem, with the pilot sitting behind and above the copilot/gunner. Not only that but it has a combination of laser-guided precision Hellfire missiles, 70mm rockets, and a 30mm automatic cannon with up to 1,200 high-explosive, dual-purpose ammunition rounds.It is equipped with a nose-mounted sensor suite to select targets, night vision, Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods, among other things.It also has laser and infrared systems for all weather operationability.
Fitted with air-to-air missiles, an Apache helicopter has the capability to take on enemy choppers and UAV, thereby providing support to ground troops. This variant can also operate over land, sea an That’s one of the reasons it has been used extensively in the conflict zones of Afghanistan, and Iraq. Between 1984 and 1997, Boeing produced 937 AH-64As for the US Army, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The Apache also uses a self-sealing fuel system to protect against the loss of fuel caused by ballistic projectiles.The Apache came up against stiff competition from Russia, which had offered its Mi-28N Night Hunter and Mi-26 heavy-lift copters. Both have been in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.
United States is the primary operator of Apache. The chopper is operational in other countries like Greece, Japan, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates. India, initially had ordered 22 choppers in the month of September. The proposal for six choppers was finally cleared at a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley today.
This will perhaps be India’s first pure attack helicopter in its possession.The Apache will be the first pure attack helicopter in India’s possession.The Apache can accommodate two pilots and experts believe it will be a ‘game changer’ in tactical battle scenarios.
The stealthy, versatile chopper is designed for all kinds of missions. Equipped with laser and infrared systems for a weather, day-night operability, the Apache fires the Hellfire missiles, besides its arsenal of 70 mm rockets and an automatic cannon.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR INDIA:
The Apache will be the first pure attack helicopter in India’s possession. While the Russian origin Mi 35 has been operated for years and is now on the verge of retirement, it was an assault chopper that was designed to carry troops into heavily defended territories. The two pilot Apache is a dedicated attack chopper that experts believe will be a ‘game changer’ in the tactical battle scenario.
The Mi-28 combat helicopter has been developed by Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant and is known by the NATO codename Havoc. In August 1996 Mil rolled out a prototype of the day and night capable version, the Mi-28N Night Havoc. The first production Mi-28N took its first flight in April 2004 and began flight testing with the Russian Air Force in June 2005.
The Russian Air Force has plans to procure up to 60 of this variant, now called the Mi-28NE Night Hunter.
“The Mi-28 can be armed with a mixture of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, unguided rockets, and podded guns. “Three were ordered in 2005 and 16 more in 2006 for delivery by 2008. The first production aircraft was delivered in May 2006 and began formal acceptance testing in September 2006. Five aircraft are involved in the testing which is scheduled to conclude in early 2008.
This Mi-28 is operated by two man crew. One is the pilot who sits in the back seat and the other is the co-pilot or gunner in the front seat. The pilot focuses on the flying of the helicopter while the gunner conducts the attack operations with the weapons.
Mi-28 can fly at a maximum speed of 300km/h, can fly rearwards and sideways at speeds up to 100km/h and is able to hover turn at 45° a second.
The Mi-28 and Mi-28N Night Havoc are armed with Shturm and Ataka anti-tank missiles supplied by the Kolumna Design Bureau (KBM). Up to 16 anti-tank missiles can be mounted on the helicopter. Shturm is a short-range, radio command-guided missile. The Ataka missile’s guidance is by narrow radar beam, and maximum range of the missile is 8km. The missile has a tandem shaped-charge warhead for penetration of 950mm to 1,000mm armour.
“The Mi-28 has a fully armoured cabin, including the windshield.”The helicopter can also carry four containers, each with 20 80mm unguided rockets or with five 122mm rockets. The helicopter can alternatively carry containers with grenade launchers, 23mm guns, 12.7mm and 7.62mm machine guns, aerial bombs, and incendiary tanks.
The helicopter is equipped with a turreted 2A42 30mm cannon, stabilised in two axes, with a muzzle velocity of 1,000m/s.
The Mi-28NE “Night Hunter” is designed for the following missions:
- providing fire support for forward ground forces;
- acting as part of the anti-tank reserve;
- accompanying and supporting tactical airborne assault and airborne assault force units;
- combating enemy tactical airborne assault forces;
- combating low-speed, low-altitude airborne targets.
The main targets for the Mi-28NE “Night Hunter” are:
- tanks, self-propelled artillery, and military anti-air defence units;
- armoured infantry vehicles, APCs, and vehicles;
- individual weapons (launchers), field and nuclear artillery batteries;
- light military equipment (individual targets);
- enemy personnel;
- helicopters and low-altitude, low-speed airborne planes.
The Mi-28A helicopter is powered by two TV3-117VMA turboshaft engines, fitted on either side of the fuselage. It is equipped with an auxiliary power unit for self-contained operation. The thermal signature of the helicopter has been reduced by a factor of 2.5 times compared to its predecessor, the Mi-24.
“The Mi-28A helicopter is powered by two TV3-117VMA turboshaft engines.”MI-28N NIGHT HAVOC
The Night Havoc helicopter retains most of the structural design of the Mi-28. The main difference is the installation of an integrated electronic combat system. Other modifications include: new main gearbox for transmitting higher power to the rotor; new high-efficiency blades with swept-shaped tips; and an engine fuel injection control system.
The main sensors of the integrated electronic combat system are the microwave radar antenna, mounted above the rotor head, and a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) system. The system displays the helicopter location on a moving map indicator, and flight, systems and target information on liquid crystal displays. The crew are equipped with night-vision goggles
Several experts believe that the Mi-28N was just as good as the AH-64D Apache Longbow. Experts also are of opinion that in terms of flight performance, arms specifications, combat survivability, and operating convenience Mi-28N is superior to Apache. But, when it comes to shooting accuracy, the US chopper is better than the Russian aircraft. Also, the ammunition of the Russian helicopter is smaller.
Another reason stated by experts is that India wants to diversify its arms procurement and not depend on only one supplier. Indian already has many defence equipment, choppers and fighter jets made by Russia. India has tried to move to even Israel and France in recent times for its defence procurement than depend only on Russia like it used to be some two decades back.
India has also not been satisfied with Russia’s execution of its obligations. Defence journals have quoted Indian officials as saying that Russia does not meet the requirements of delivery dates, modernisation and repairs.
Apache has also proved its mettle in many conflict zones world over including Afghanistan.