Apache AH-64E: A Game Changer For Indian Armed Forces
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. IAF will also get 812 AGM-114L-3 Hellfire Longbow missiles, 542 AGM-114R-3 Hellfire-II missiles, 245 Stinger Block I-92H missiles and 12 AN/APG-78 fire-control radars.
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.
The AH-64E comes with a 30-mm M230 cannon with 1 200 rounds of ammunition. It has 4 hardpoint on stub wings and can carry various missiles. Armament is being tailored, depeinding on mission requirements. The AH-64E can carry up to 16 AGM-114R Hellfire 2 anti-tank guided missiles, up to two AIM-9 Sidewinder, four AIM-92 Stinger, or four Mistral air-to-air missiles. It can also carry two AGM-122 Sidearm anti-radiation missiles. The gunship is often equipped with 19-shot Hydra 70 unoperated rocket pods. It can carry up to 4 of these pods.
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.
Capable of detecting 256 moving targets and engaging them, the twin-engine Apache is operated by two pilots. The AH-64E Apache has the ability to control unmanned aerial vehicles.
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.
After several years of wrangling, the Indian Army and Indian Air Force (IAF) are both likely to operate the Apache multi-role attack helicopters.
The Army, which has long pitched for its own dedicated fleet of attack helicopters, is likely to get its way through, sources said. The issue was discussed by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley last week.
The Army had initially asked for 22 attack helicopters to be transferred to its custody, which was rejected by the Air Force. The IAF has strongly opposed the creation of a separate mini-Air wing by the Army, which the former felt would reduce its role.
“The Army will get 6 Apache helicopters, while the original order of 22 helicopters will be with the IAF. It will go through,” a senior officer told The Hindu on Monday.
Six AH-64E Apache Longbow helicopters will be the first purpose-built attack helicopters in service with the Indian Army. On the back of a long-winded turf battle between the Indian Air Force and Army over which service will operate attack helicopters, the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) today cleared the purchase of six Apaches for the latter, an expected decision, though analysts are surprised the number is so tentatively small.