The Indian Air Force on Tuesday morning inducted eight US-made Apache AH-64E helicopters at its Pathankot airbase. The choppers received a water cannon salute before induction at the airbase. The helicopters will give a big push to Air Force's combat powers.
The newly-inducted helicopters will soon be part of India's wargaming and military exercises and will be kept ready to take on any threat. The helicopters are also called 'flying tanks'. The choppers can operate in mountainous terrains and are a potent weapon for India's defence.
The Apache AH-64E is equipped with an advanced targeting system and can be part of an all-weather combat operation. It also has no restrictions on night flying. The Apache AH-64E has a maximum speed of 293 kmph and is equipped with a 330 mm chain gun that can fire 1,200 rounds, air-to-air stringer missiles as well as anti-tank missiles. The chopper can not only carry out air operations but also aid troops on the ground.
Pilots who will fly the Apache AH-64Es have already been trained and will soon be part of combat exercises and real time challenge tests, as mentioned by sources to India Today.
"The Apache helicopters have been modified according to the needs of the IAF. We are very happy with the scheduled delivery of the helicopters on time," said Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa at the induction ceremony in Pathankot Air Force station.
The Indian Air Force will have 22 such Apache AH-64Es by 2020. The fleet will be divided into two squadrons - one will be based in Pathankot, Punjab to keep an eye on Pakistan and the other will be based in Jorhat, Assam to keep a check on China.
The IAF had signed a multi-billion dollar contract with the US government and Boeing Ltd in September 2015 for 22 Apache helicopters.