Three years after the Modi government signed a deal with US aviation company Boeing to buy 22 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinooks to replace ageing Soviet-era gunships used by the Indian Air Force, the first aircraft of both types made their maiden flight in Arizona, Boeing India has said.
Chinook is a heavy lift chopper, used for transportation of troops and weapons into the battlefield. It can be used to lift equipment as heavy as an artillery gun. The M777 howitzer, which India has acquired, can be lifted by the Chinooks to areas where it is either impossible or difficult to take it using trucks.
Described as the most lethal attack helicopter in the world, the Apache can fire 30 mm armour-penetrating bullets and is often called ‘tank killer’. Equipped with Hellfire missiles, it can destroy heavy tanks and light bunkers with ease. The government has also cleared the purchase of six Apaches for the Army.
The purchase of new attack and heavy lift helicopters will cost India $2.5 billion. The six additional Apaches bought for the Army will cost $654.6 million. The delivery of these helos to the Air Force will start in March 2019.
Tata Boeing Aerospace, a joint venture between Boeing and Tat, is supplying fuselage for the Apache combat helicopters from its facility in Hyderabad.
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