- Formally inducted at Air Force Station Pathankot
- Boeing hands over the key to IAF
Brig. VK Atray(Retd.)
Pathankot. 03 September 2019. Finally Indian Air Force’s inventory became more potent with the induction of Apache Guardian Helicopter AF-64E(I) into its feet. Based at Air Force Station Pathankot, it promises to be a formidable force placed at the volatile western borders of India.
Eight Apaches were inducted into IAF today and by the end of next year all 22 should be placed in their squadrons. Amidst water canon reception and religious ceremonies so akin to Indian armed forces Boeing handed over the ceremonial keys to the IAF Chief who in turn handed them to the Squadron Commander of the home of the formidable helicopters.
Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa during the induction ceremony said Apache attack helicopters are being purchased to replace the Mi-35 fleet. Alongside the capability to shoot fire and forget anti tank guided missiles, air to air missiles, rockets and other ammunition, it also has modern EW capabilities to provide versatility to helicopter in a network centric aerial warfare.
“Apaches have been an integral part of numerous historic campaigns worldwide. These aircraft have been modified specifically to suit the exacting standards demanded by IAF. I am happy to note that the delivery schedule is on time with eight helicopters already being delivered,” he said.
It may be recalled that the Apache were formally handed over to the Indian Air Force at Boeing production facility in Mesa, Arizona, USA on 10 May 19. Air Marshal AS Butola, represented the Indian Air Force and accepted the first Apache in a ceremony at Boeing production facility, representatives from US Government were also present.
IAF had signed a contract with US Government and M/s Boeing Ltd in Sep 2015 for 22 Apache helicopters. The first batch of these helicopters is scheduled to be shipped to India by Jul this year. Selected aircrew and ground crew have undergone training at the training facilities at US Army base Fort Rucker, Alabama. These personnel lead the operationalisation of the Apache fleet in the IAF.
The addition of AH-64 E (I) helicopter is a significant step towards modernisation of Indian Air Force’s helicopter fleet. The helicopter has been customized to suit IAF’s future requirements and would have significant capability in mountainous terrain. The helicopter has the capability to carry out precision attacks at standoff ranges and operate in hostile airspace with threats from ground.
The ability of these helicopters, to transmit and receive the battlefield picture, to and from the weapon systems through data networking makes it a lethal acquisition. These attack helicopters will provide significant edge in any future joint operations in support of land forces.