Boeing to showcase Apache attack chopper to Indian defence ministry

May 8th, 2008 - 7:32 pm ICT by admin  

By Vishnu Makhijani
Mesa (Arizona), May 8 (IANS) A high-powered delegation from US aerospace major Boeing will visit New Delhi later this month to showcase the company’s lethal Apache attack chopper to the Indian defence ministry. The visit comes even as the Indian Air Force (IAF) prepares to float a global request for information (RFI) on replacements for its ageing fleet of Soviet-era Mi-35 helicopter gun ships.

“The (Boeing) delegation is expected to reach New Delhi around the 18th (of May). It will stay in the city a couple of days, meeting senior officials of the (Indian) defence ministry to make presentations on what we believe is the best helicopter of its class in the world today,” a Boeing official said.

“The Apache has been in production for 25 years and has a proven track record in the global war against terror in Afghanistan and Iraq,” the official told IANS on the sidelines of a visit by a group of Indian journalists to the Apache production facilities here.

“We will be fully compliant with the DPP-2006 (the defence procurement procedure that was enunciated in 2006 and is now in the process of being fine tuned). In fact, we will even go one step further,” the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“What we will propose - and this is not mandated in the DPP - is a logistics support arrangement under which Boeing officials will be posted at the locations where the Apache is deployed to provide assistance with maintenance,” he said.

When it was pointed out that the defence ministry and the IAF might not agree to such an arrangement, the official suggested an alternative.

“In that case, we can provide remote assistance from a location closest to India. What we are also committing is the replacement within 24 hours of a part that goes defective. We will then fly out that part, repair it and reinstall it,” the official said.

“We will also maintain a log of all parts that go defective. If we notice a pattern in this, we will get our engineers to work on a permanent solution to this. In this way, we create a win-win situation for both sides,” he added.

Earlier, during a briefing on the capabilities of the helicopter, Brad Rounding, programme manager of the Apache programme, described it as the “most trusted weapon system on the battlefield” and pointed out that it had logged 2,100,000 hours with the US forces since its induction.

“The Apache has flown 70,000 combat hours in Afghanistan and 350,000 combat hours in Iraq. It is the most survivable aviation system on the battlefield,” Rounding added.

“When Apaches are flying, troops aren’t dying,” he maintained, and quoted a captured Iraqi lieutenant general as saying: “We were defenceless against the Apaches… so I ran.”

“An aircraft designed to fight tanks in the Cold War era is now the weapon of choice in the global war against terror,” he added.

Powered by two high-performance turbo-shaft engines that enable it to achieve a maximum cruise speed of 284 km per hour, the helicopter is equipped with laser, infrared and other systems - including target acquisition and designation sights and pilot night vision sensors - to locate, track, and attack targets.

This apart, it is armed with a combination of laser-guided precision Hellfire missiles, 70mm rockets, and a 30 mm automatic cannon that can fire high-explosive and dual-purpose ammunition.

Apart from the US, the armed forces of Britain, Greece, Holland, Japan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates currently operate the Apache. Some 1,600 new and re-manufactured machines are now flying and production is expected to extend well beyond 2040.

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