The Indian defence ministry has cleared more than $3.1 billion worth two deals to buy US-built attack and heavy-lift helicopters for equipping the Indian Air Force, Hindustan Times reported Tuesday.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar has sent the proposals to buy 22 AH-64D Apache Longbow attack and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift copters to the finance ministry for clearance, a government official said on Monday. Both the helicopters are manufactured by Boeing.
The decision on clearance of these projects coincides with the scheduled visit of US Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter’s visit to India on June 2.
The Apache proposal sent to the finance ministry on April 23, while the proposal to buy Chinooks was sent last week. The proposals will later go to the cabinet committee on security, headed by PM Narendra Modi, for final clearance. The latest price extension granted by Boeing for the choppers is valid till June 30.
The proposals have clauses to place follow-on orders for 11 more Apaches and four extra Chinooks. Both platforms have seen combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. Boeing had beaten off competition from Russia, which had offered its Mi-28N Night Hunter and Mi-26 heavy-lift copters to the IAF.
The Apache attack choppers, armed with fire-and-forget Hellfire missiles, can track up to 128 targets in a minute and prioritise threats. These missiles equip the helicopter gunships with heavy anti-armour capabilities. The army is moving a case to buy 39 Apache helicopters. The Chinook’s main roles include transporting troops, artillery and battlefield resupply.