The Indian Air Force is preparing to induct the much sought-after Boeing AH-64E helicopters
Bengaluru: An important cog in the wheel in India’s pursuit to modernise its forces and enhance firepower, is attack helicopters. It is needed to support the manoeuvre forces in the deserts/plains and mountain strike divisions. In 2015, the USD1.5 billion contract for 22 Boeing AH-64E Guardian attack helicopters was signed between India and the US after technical evaluation and trials in which the Apache bested its competition - the Russian Mi-28N. However, the Indian Army has also been pressing for its own fleet of attack helicopters; so, heeding to that need the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) recently cleared six helicopters for the Indian Army Aviation Corps (AAC).
What really sets Apache apart from its contemporaries is its distinguished combat record, and its capabilities are not just written on paper but are being proven every day in intense combat scenarios.
Gulf War: Apaches were instrumental in carrying out the suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD) by destroying the radars, thus enabling subsequent penetration by fighters. They also destroyed hundreds of tanks, artillery pieces and other armoured vehicles.
Afghanistan and Iraq: They provided close air support to troops on the ground taking heavy fire but safely taken back to base, repaired and put back to action. Their ability to fly low and slow to identify the friend from the foe and to communicate with commanders on the ground are widely liked by war fighters.
What gives the Apache the teeth it is most feared for?
Sensors: The AN/APG-78 Longbow Millimetre wave fire control radar made by Lockheed Martin. It provides 360-degree coverage to detect, classify and engage simultaneous threats in all-weather conditions. It is primarily used to cue the Longbow Hellfire anti-armour missiles.
The Modernised Target Acquisition and Designation Sensor (M-TADS) is a multi-sensor payload which provides both the crew with image intensified day, thermal imaging and laser range finding and pointing abilities for target acquisition. The laser designator also designates target for the semi active laser guided hellfire missiles.
The pilots’ night vision sensor (PNVS) aids navigation at night independent of the M-TADS. It is equipped with an image intensified TV sensor coupled with an infrared sensor to provide Visible Light/Near Infrared/Infrared imagery in standalone or fused mode.
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