The Indian Air Force (IAF) has received the first of 22 Boeing 'AH-64E (I)' Apache Guardian attack helicopters during a ceremony held at the Boeing production facility in Mesa, Arizona, on 10 May.
In a statement issued the following day the IAF said that the first batch of these rotorcraft is scheduled to be shipped to India by July, adding that selected air and ground crew have already undergone training at US Army base Fort Rucker in Alabama and "will lead the operationalisation of the Apache fleet in the IAF".
Boeing sources had told Jane's on 11 April that the first four platforms will be transported by a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft to Pathankot Air Force Station in northern India, where they are to be assembled ahead of their formal induction into service by the end of the year.
Delivery of the remaining 18 platforms is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
The IAF described the acquisition of the twin-engined rotorcraft as "a significant step" towards the modernisation of its helicopter fleet, pointing out that the platforms are being customised to suit the IAF's "future requirements". The helicopters will have "a significant capability in mountainous terrain" and provide "a significant edge in any future joint operations in support of land forces, it added.
The IAF ordered 22 Apache rotorcraft in September 2015 for INR139.5 billion (USD2.02 billion). Senior IAF officers have said that an Apache squadron, comprising 10-11 helicopters, will be stationed at Pathankot near the border with Pakistan, while a second one will be based at Jorhat in northeastern India near the country's disputed border with China.
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