India to Buy Apache and Chinook Helicopters
India’s cabinet has approved a $2.5bn deal to buy 37 military helicopters from the US aviation company Boeing. India will buy 22 Apache Attack Helicopters and 15 Chinooks to replace the ageing Soviet-era helicopters.The purchase strengthens the status of US as one of India’s top military suppliers. The Indian Air Force picked the Apache and Chinook helicopters over Russian competitors in 2012, but budget constraints had held back the deal until now. Characteristics of the helicopters being inducted and those which will be replaced are discussed below.
Boeing AH-64 Apache
Apache is a four-blade, two men crew attack helicopter. It is the most lethal anti tank weapon in the world, carrying AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. The missile is “fire and forget” and needs no guidance once a target has been acquired. Apache features a nose-mounted sensor for target acquisition and night vision systems. It is also armed with a 30mm gun. Each Hellfire Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) weighs 47 kg, including a 9 kg warhead, and has a range of 8,000 meters. Apache is being used by several countries successfully.
Boeing CH-47 Chinook
Boeing CH-47 Chinook is a twin-engine, tandem rotor, heavy lift helicopter. Its primary roles are troop movement, artillery placement and battlefield resupply. With a top speed of 315 km/h Chinook is a stealthy, versatile helicopter designed for all kinds of missions. Equipped with laser and infrared systems for all weather, day-night operability, it can carry 9.6 tons of cargo, including heavy machinery, artillery guns and even light armoured vehicles to high altitude. Suited for mountain operations, the Chinook is highly manoeuvrable and can get in and out of tight valleys. Its missions range from ferrying troops to disaster relief operations. Combat troops carrying capacity is 36. Chinook is a very popular helicopter in the world.
Mi-35 Attack Helicopter
Mi-35 Attack Helicopter is Russian origin equipment. It can carry 8 combat troops and is armed with Konkur ATGM, having a range of 4000 meters. It is a wire guided missile and is not, ‘fire and forget’. It is a generation behind the Hellfire missile. Apache is much superior equipment when compared with Mi-35 Attack Helicopter, that it will replace.
Mi-26/ Mi-17 Helicopter
With a capacity of 80 combat troops, Mi-26 is the biggest helicopter in the world. It is, however, very large and not very manoeuvrable and hence its practical utility is very limited. Mi-17, the other Russian origin helicopter in use in India has a cargo capacity of 24. Chinook will provide additional lift capability in war and peace to the existing Mi-17s that India has.