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Significant Step Towards Modernisation, Says Air Chief Dhanoa as IAF Adds 8 Apache Attack Helicopters to Fleet

The AH-64E Apache is one of the world's most advanced multi-role combat helicopters, and is flown by the US Army.

News18.com

Updated:September 4, 2019, 9:02 AM IST
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Significant Step Towards Modernisation, Says Air Chief Dhanoa as IAF Adds 8 Apache Attack Helicopters to Fleet
Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa inspects an Apache attack helicopter during the induction ceremony of eight US-made Apache AH-64E helicopters into the Indian Air Force, at Airforce Station, Pathankot on Tuesday. (PTI Photo)
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Pathankot: The Indian Air Force inducted eight US-made Apache AH-64E attack helicopters here on Tuesday, which will give a major boost to its combat capabilities. Officials said the aircraft were formally inducted at the induction ceremony at Pathankot Air Force station with Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa as the chief guest.

The AH-64E Apache is one of the world's most advanced multi-role combat helicopters, and is flown by the US Army. The IAF had signed a multi-billion dollar contract with the US government and Boeing Ltd in September 2015 for 22 Apache helicopters.

"Eight of the Apache attack helicopters inducted into the IAF, that will enhance the force's combat capabilities," a senior IAF official said.

The ceremonial key was handed over to IAF Chief Dhanoa by the Boeing company president. The IAF had signed a multi-billion dollar contract with the US government and Boeing Ltd in September 2015 for 22 Apache helicopters.

The Apache AH-64E are equipped with latest technology and will enhance the operational capabilities of the IAF and the strike force, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said.

"Apache-64E attack helicopters will replace the ageing Mi-35 fleet. A total of 22 Apaches are to be delivered and the last batch will be delivered by March 2020 and the first eight helicopters have been delivered on time," he said.

Dhanoa said these helicopters are equipped with latest technology and will be deployed in the western region. "These attack helicopters will enhance the operation capabilities of the IAF and the strike force," Dhanoa said.

He also said the Apache induction is a "significant step" towards modernisation of the IAF fleet. Apaches are equipped with latest technology, 24x7 all-weather capable with high agility and survivability, he said.

The helicopters are equipped with advanced weaponry system, which includes air-to-air Stinger missiles, air-to-ground Hellfire missiles, 70 mm Hydra rockets, and one 30 mm chain gun with 1200 rounds, the IAF said.

The eight helicopters have been delivered on schedule and the last batch is to be delivered by March 2020, the IAF said, adding that these will be deployed in the western regions of the country.

"These Apaches have been modified to suit the exacting standards demanded by the IAF... Alongside the capability to shoot fire and forget anti-tank missiles, it has air-to-air missiles, rockets and other ammunition, and it also has modern electronic warfare capabilities to provide versatility to the helicopter," Dhanoa said.

"These attack helicopters will enhance the operation capabilities of the IAF as the strike force," the IAF chief said.

The induction of Apache helicopters is a significant step towards modernisation of the IAF fleet, he said.

The twin-engine, two-crew tandem seating helicopter has a glass cockpit and can reach a speed up to 186 knots, and has a combat radius of 300 miles, the IAF said.

All-weather helicopters, Apaches are capable of operating day and night and have a very high agility and survivability against battle damage, a senior IAF official said.

Dhanoa, in his address during the induction ceremony, described Apache as "one of the fiercest attack helicopters in the world".

"They have been part of numerous historic campaigns worldwide...Apaches are capable of performing many missions like in heli-borne operations, suppression of enemy air defence and battlefield air strike roles," he said.

The eight helicopters have been delivered on schedule and the rest are expected to be delivered by 2020.

The eight Apache helicopters are part of the 125 Helicopter Squadron, known as the Gladiators and based at the Pathankot Air Force station.

In his speech, Dhanoa also charted the history of helicopters which have been in the inventory of the IAF.

"Since 1954, when IAF inducted Sikorsky S-55 as part of the newly-raised 104 helicopter unit, there has been no looking back for these rotary wings. The IAF helicopters have proved their mettle in various missions and operations worldwide," he said.

Dhanoa said the IAF helicopter inventory varies from Cheetah, Chetak to the mighty Mi-35. Armed helicopters Mi-35 remained an attack helicopter for the IAF and they have served the IAF for over three decades in Indian missions and peacekeeping missions in Sierra Leone and Congo.

He said with the induction of Apache, the IAF has upgraded its inventory to the latest version of attack helicopters.

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