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'With air-to-air missile capabilities, these Apaches are potent force in air'

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PATHANKOT (PTI): US-made Apache AH-64E helicopters are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, which includes air-to-air Stinger missiles, a fire control radar having 360-degree coverage, and endowed with an "all-weather, 24x7 operational capability", IAF officials said on Tuesday.

The Indian Air Force on Tuesday inducted eight of these attack helicopters into its inventory at a ceremony held at the Pathankot Air Base here, which will also provide a major boost to the IAF's firepower capabilities.

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.

These 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.

Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa described Apache as "one of the most fierce attack helicopters in the world".

"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," he said.

Senior IAF officials said the attack helicopter is capable of "prolonged operation and in tropical and desert regions".

"And to add to the lethality of the helicopter, it carries a fire control radar that has a 360-degree coverage and nose-mounted sensor suite for target and night vision system," the senior IAF official said.

During the induction ceremony, three Apache AH-64E helicopters were kept on display on the tarmac, while two other Apaches performed a flypast.

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

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

"They also have thermal imaging, 24x7 operational capability, millimetric wave radar, and detection range of 16 km," he said.

Air Marshal Arvindra Singh Butola, Commandant of Air Force Academy (AFA), and the senior most serving attack helicopter pilot also attended the event.

"It is one of the most modern helicopters, and it has participated in several conflicts successfully...The induction of Apache will be a great boost to operational capabilities of the IAF and give more teeth to the Air Force," he said.

It will serve in many ways as our terrain differs from jungles to mountains, and this state-of-the-art technology will provide 24x7 capabilities day or night, and we will be able to engage targets day or night," Butola told reporters when asked about its combat capabilities.

The eight Apache AH-64E helicopters inducted on Tuesday are now part of the 125 Helicopter Squadron, known as the Gladiators, based at the Pathankot Air Force station. The rest are expected to arrive by March next year, the IAF said.

The induction ceremony also involved a 'water cannon salute' followed by a multi-faith auspicious ritual in the presence of Dhanoa and others dignitaries.

An IAF spokesperson said the rituals are a customary practice during induction of any aircraft.

Boeing India President Salil Gupte said, "We are proud that the IAF has chosen Boeing as a partner in its modernisation journey...While this is the same variant of Apache as used by the US Army, for IAF, it has been tailored to meet its requirements to support it operational needs and mission readiness."

He said India is the 16th country to use Apache attack helicopters now after the US, the UK and Australia, among other countries.

When asked about the most significant capabilities, Gupte said Apache AN-64E capability is to carry weapons and operate flexibily in high altitude areas and mountain terrains.

Tags:

India  US  Apache  Helicopter  Air Force  Missile  
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