The helicopter is one of the most important pieces of equipment for a country’s defence. Since its inception, helicopters have been used for various purposes due to its versatile nature. Depending on the size, a helicopter is used for transportation, attack, assistance in case of natural calamities etc.
The Indian Air Force had approved a procurement request for acquisition of 22 Apache attack helicopters from Boeing which is said to be inducted by July 2019.
Let’s read about this attack helicopter in detail.
Apache AH-64E: Indian Air Force Helicopter
What is Apache?
Apache is an attack helicopter which is regarded as the world’s most lethal helicopter. The helicopter is manufactured by Boeing and was first introduced in US army in 1986. Apache AH-64E is an upgraded version of the helicopter which will be inducted into the Indian Air Force.
Why did IAF choose Helicopter over Aircraft?
The Indian Air Force is struggling for the newer acquisition of the aircraft, so why did it prefer to choose a Helicopter over Aircraft?
It is no doubt an aircraft has an edge over a helicopter when it comes to destroying the resources behind enemy lines, but the helicopter has their advantage too:
- Helicopters can hover and can precisely target and mow down even man-sized targets with things like millimetre radar and night vision
- Helicopters can also hug the ground, making them much more difficult to spot by air defences, RADAR and enemy troops. Therefore, the first wave of air attacks conducted in the 1st Gulf War was led by AH-64s (destroying radar sites).
- Lastly, most attack helicopters are armoured. On the other hand, most fixed-wing aircraft are not (including all the ones you mentioned). So, if they take fire, they’re less likely to go down.
- Attack helicopters can land and take-off from small pads and ships whereas fixed-wing aircraft require a runway or special aircraft carrier.
- India has a very difficult terrain where there are important passes and ranges which are difficult to target from an aircraft, hence helicopters gain an advantage.
The Helicopter is going to be a joint venture of US company Boeing & Indian company Tata under Make in India initiative.
Here are some technical specifications of the aircraft:
158 Knots (293 Km/h)
21000 ft (6.1 Km)
Why Apache Ah-64E?
India Chose the Apache helicopter due to the following reasons:
1. FIM 92 Stinger Missile:
This missile is notorious for its impact in the Soviet-Afghan war. Mujahideen armed with these Stingers brought down jet fighters to transport aircraft to helicopters.
One of the worst helicopters to be affected by this missile was the MI-35 that India already has. These missiles form a large part of Pakistan’s arsenal (350 missiles) so we had to have a helicopter which would have better survivability rate.
2. AGM-114 Hellfire Missile:
This is a revolutionary Air-to-Surface and Surface-to-Surface missile specifically intended for an Anti-Armor role.
This missile is tailor-made for low-intensity conflicts where surgical removal of Armor is required.
These missiles come specially equipped with the Apache helicopters and make a lethal combination of speed & strength.
Fully armoured Fuselage:
The helicopter is also known as the flying tank as it is so secure that it can take multiple bullets & still perform well in the battlefield.
Hence, it can be deduced that the Apache was the best choice for India. Apart from that India wanted to strengthen its friendship with the USA.
The stealthy, agile chopper is designed for missions of all kinds. In addition to a 70 mm rocket arsenal and an automatic cannon, the Apache is equipped with laser and infrastructure systems for day-to-day operability.
The Apache is going to be India's first pure attack helicopter. While the Mi 35 from Russia has been operating for years and is now about to retire, the two pilot Apache is a dedicated attack chopper that experts believe will be a 'game changer'.
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