Boeing starts building Apache attack helicopters for Indian Army - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Thursday 17 August 2023

Boeing starts building Apache attack helicopters for Indian Army

With 22 Apache helicopters already delivered to the IAF, Boeing has begun executing an order for six Apaches for the Indian army

By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 17th Aug 23


In an encouraging sign of a boost to the firepower of the Indian Army’s mechanised strike formations, The Boeing Company (Boeing) has announced the start of production of AH-64E Apache attack helicopters in Mesa, Arizona.


Boeing will be delivering to the Indian Army a total of six AH-64E Apache helicopters for Rs 4,168 crore. All six of these Apaches are to be delivered by 2024.


Since independence in 1947, the IAF (Indian Air Force) has insisted on retaining control of combat aviation assets, especially attack helicopters, which the air marshals have kept firmly under their control.


Even as the army began operating light utility helicopters and established its own Army Aviation Corps, the IAF retained control of medium and heavy lift helicopters (Mi-17 and Mi-26) and attack helicopters (Mi-35).


The IAF’s control over the helicopter fleet was underscored in September 2015, when $3 billion worth of helicopters – 22 Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy lift choppers – were handed over to the IAF, overruling the army’s arguments that attack helicopters, which are an integral part of the ground battle, should be flown by army aviation pilots.


The IAF intends to use its 22 Apaches for “air defence operations”. This involves taking out enemy radars and command and control centres. Meanwhile, the army’s Apaches would be employed for destroying enemy tanks and armoured vehicles on the mechanized battlefield.


As a part of transferring production of defence equipment from the US to India, Boeing and the Tata Group have formed a joint venture called Tata Boeing Aerospace Limited (TBAL). It is TBAL that has delivered the Indian Army's first AH-64 Apache fuselage from its advanced facility in Hyderabad, India.


"We are pleased to reach yet another significant milestone, highlighting Boeing's unwavering commitment to support India's defense capabilities,” said Salil Gupte, president, Boeing India. “The advanced technology and proven performance of the AH-64 (Apache helicopter) will enhance the Indian Army's operational readiness and strengthen its defense capabilities."


“The AH-64E continues to be the world’s premier attack helicopter,” said Christina Upah of Boeing. “The AH-64 provides customers with unparalleled lethality and survivability, and we are thrilled to provide those capabilities to the Indian Army.”  


Boeing’s annual sourcing from India currently stands at over $1 billion. The company employs over 5,000 people in India, and more than 13,000 people work with its supply chain partners.


Boeing says it is focused on delivering value to Indian customers with advanced technologies.

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