Explained: How will Apache attack helicopter augment capabilities of IAF
Indian Air Force has been handed over the first AH-64E (I) Apache Guardian Attack Helicopter yesterday at the Boeing production facility in Mesa, Arizona in the United States of America. Indian Air Force will be receiving some 22 Apache Helicopters from Boeing in the future which will start induction in Indian Air Force by the month of July this year.
How does the Apache augment capabilities of the IAF?
The introduction of Apache will lead to the modernisation of the IAF’s attack helicopter fleet which at present is equipped with Russian origin MI-35 helicopters. The Russian attack helicopters, stationed in Pathankot in Punjab and Suratgarh in Rajasthan, are now on the verge of retirement and, thus, IAF needed an urgent augmentation of capabilities.
The Apache has been customised to suit the requirements of the Indian military and will have significant capability in mountainous terrain. Apache has the capability of carrying out precision attacks at standoff ranges and operate in hostile airspace with threats from the ground. The helicopter also has the unique capacity to transmit and receive battlefield picture through data uplinking and networking.
What are the weapon systems that the AH64E (I) Guardian comes equipped with?
AGM-114R-3 HELLFIRE II missiles: It is an air-to-ground missile developed primarily for the anti-armour role. Each Hellfire weighs 45.4kg-49kg including an 8kg-9kg multipurpose warhead. It has 8km (LOAL, high trajectory), 7.1km (LOAL, low/direct trajectory) and 11km (UAS: LOAL, high trajectory) range depending on the trajectory.
Stinger Air-to-Air Missile: Stinger Block I-92H air-to-air missiles sold to India are a variant of the famous shoulder-launched FIM-92 Stinger system. The Stinger is a lightweight missile used for engaging low-altitude targets and either equipped with a fire-and-forget passive infrared seeker or a fire-and-forget passive infrared focal plane array seeker. (One variant of the missile also features an ultraviolet seeker that can distinguish between flares and jet engines.)
M230 Cannon: Hughes *M230* Chain *Gun* is a 30 mm, single-barrel automatic cannon mounted on Apache’s nose and is capable of firing upto 600 rounds per minute upto a range of 4000 metres.
Hydra 70: It is a 2.75-inch fin-stabilized unguided rocket mounted by the Apache on the Weapon Pylon and is used for Air-to-Ground Attacks, primarily used for Anti-Materiel, Anti-Personnel Suppression Operations.
The helicopter is powered by two high-performance turboshaft engines with a maximum cruise speed of 284 km per hour or 152 knots.
What operational role is envisaged for Apache?
There was considerable debate prior to the contract being signed for Apaches on whether the helicopter is better suited to the Army’s needs or the IAFs. The Army’s contention was that since the helicopter is the highly effective platform for destruction of tanks and armoured vehicles it made sense for the Army to raise Apache squadrons.
It was also pointed out that the IAF Apache units would also be employed in support of the Army strike formations which carry battle to the enemy territory.
It was eventually decided that the IAF will raise two squadrons of Apaches, while the Army also received the nod for six helicopters, significantly less than its requirement. However, the Army is eventually readying itself to be equipped with 30 Apache helicopters to equip three squadrons for each of its three strike Corps
Source:- Indian Express, Harsh B Mishra Quora