PATHANKOT, Sept 3 - Eight US-made Apache stealth attack helicopters, capable of firing missiles and rockets, were inducted into the Indian Air Force on Tuesday, significantly boosting the force�s combat capability at a time India faces complex security challenges including cross border terrorism.
The eight helicopters, manufactured by aerospace major Boeing, were part of a multi-billion dollar deal India struck with the US government for 22 Apache AH-64E choppers nearly four years ago.
In a brief address after induction of the fleet, Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa said procurement of choppers with latest technology is a �significant step� towards modernisation of the IAF.
�The Apache helicopters will enhance the operational capabilities of the IAF,� he said at this strategically located air-base and added that the fleet will be deployed in India�s western region.
The AH-64E Apache is one of the world�s most advanced multi-role combat helicopters and is flown by the US Army. The choppers are customised to suit IAF�s future requirements. The helicopter is capable of delivering a variety of weapons, including air to ground Hellfire missiles, 70 mm Hydra rockets and air to air stinger missiles.
To add to its lethality, the helicopter carries a fire control radar, which has 360-degree coverage and a nose mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems, officials said.
The chopper also carries one 30 mm chain gun with 1,200 rounds. Alongside the capability to shoot fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missiles, air to air missiles, rockets and other ammunition, the helicopter also has modern electronic warfare capabilities to provide versatility in a network centric aerial warfare.
The induction of the Apache fleet came over six months after India carried out an air strike deep inside Balakot in Pakistan, and amid demands by the IAF to further bolster its combat capabilities to deal effectively with any external security threat. � PTI