The Indian Air Force (IAF) will receive the first four of 22 Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters in August, according to Boeing sources.
The U.S.-made helicopter gunships are expected to arrive via U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft at Pathankot Air Force Station in northern India, where they will be assembled, IHS Jane’s reported on April 11.
Previously, Boeing executives cited July as the initial delivery date. “We are on plan to deliver the first of 22 Apache starting July. This will give significant combat capabilities [to the IAF],” David Koopersmith, Vice-President and General Manager of Boeing’s Vertical Lift division was quoted as saying by Indian media in February.
Boeing sources told IHS Jane’s that the remaining 18 AH-64Es will be delivered by the end of 2020.
India and the U.S. signed a $2.2 billion deal in 2015 for 22 AH-64Es and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters for the IAF. The signing of the contract was accompanied by a prolonged inter-service rivalry between the IAF and the Indian Army’s Aviation Corps (AAC), which I explained in 2017:
For a number of years, the Indian Army has been engaged in a tug of war with the Indian Air Force over who should operate this future fleet of Apache gunships. The Army initially asked for the gunships to be inducted into its ranks, or for the Air Force to at least share the helicopters with the ground forces. The Air Force, however, rejected both proposals.
Additionally, I reported:
[T]he prolonged negotiations over the initial batch of 22 Apache helicopters are partially to blame for the interservice rivalry. In 2012, then Indian National Security Advisor Shankar Menon decided that any new attack helicopters procured would go the Army. The Air Force, however, countered that it had already begun the acquisition process in 2012. Following extensive field trials, the Indian Air Force selected the Apache gunship and the Chinook helicopter in 2009.
The AAC has now plans to operate three separate AH-64E squadrons with a total of 39 helicopters. In February 2018, the AAC has begun a separate procurement track for its Apache AH-64Es. As I reported at the time, the AAC seeks an initial purchase of six AH-64Es under the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, overseen by the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
The 2015 contract also contains a clause for a follow-on option of 11 extra Apaches and seven Chinooks for the IAF at a fixed price that was agreed upon in 2013.
Notably, Tata Boeing Aerospace Ltd (TBAL), a joint venture between Boeing and Tata Advanced Systems set up a facility to produce fuselages for the AH-64 Apache helicopter in Hyderabad in early 2018.