On Friday, 10 July, Boeing announced that it had completed the delivery of all the Apache and Chinook advanced military helicopters they were to provide to the Indian Air Force.
The delivery was completed with the handover of the final five Apache attack choppers to the IAF at the Hindan Air Force Station. PTI reports that these helicopters are part of the military assets deployed at key air bases along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which has of course been the site of recent tensions between India and China. The Chinooks had all been delivered by March this year.
India had ordered 22 Apache AH-64E helicopters and 15 Chinook CH-47F(I) heavy-lift helicopters from the US aerospace giant in September 2015.
India and the US signed a new contract for six more Apaches for the Indian Army this time, during US President Donald Trump’s visit to New Delhi in February.
“Customer centricity, commitment to the modernization and mission-readiness of India’s defence forces are key values to our partnership with India,” said Surendra Ahuja, managing director, Boeing Defence India. “With this delivery of military helicopters, we continue to nurture this partnership and are fully committed to working closely with India’s defence forces to deliver the right value and capabilities to meet their operational needs,” Ahuja added.
DETAILS ABOUT THE NEW HELICOPTERS
The AH-64E Apache is the most advanced variant of the Apache helicopter, and is the one deployed by the US military. According to Boeing, it has an “ open systems architecture including the latest communications, navigation, sensor and weapon systems.”
The Apaches are multi-purpose helicopters, “uniquely suited to meet a commander’s needs”, from reconnaissance to security and peacekeeping to attacks, across multiple environments.
The Chinook is a heavy-lift helicopter, that is supposed to be able to operate in hot climates, high altitudes and crosswind conditions where other choppers struggle. Boeing notes that the key features of the CH-47F(I) are its modern machined airframe, a common avionics architecture system (CAAS) cockpit and a digital automatic flight control system (DAFCS).
A VICTORY FOR DEFENCE COLLABORATION IN INDIA?
The aero-structures for the Apache helicopters – not just for India but the US Army and Boeing’s other international customers – are being made at Boeing’s joint venture with Tata in Hyderabad, Tata Boeing Aerospace Limited (TBAL).
The Chinooks also have an Indian manufacturing connect, according to Boeing, with its suppliers in India “manufacturing critical systems and components for the Chinooks, including the crown and tailcone assembly by Tata Advanced Systems and the ramp and aft pylon by Dynamatic Technologies.”
Bilateral defence trade between India and the US reached USD 18 billion in 2019, PTI reported, noting the designation of India as a ‘Major Defence Partner’ by the US in June 2016. Boeing claims to be working with over 200 suppliers and partners in India, supporting ‘Make in India’ and ‘Skill India’.
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