By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 28th Sept 15
On Monday in New Delhi, US and Indian officials signed contracts for the purchase by the Indian Air Force (IAF) of 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, and 15 CH-47F Chinook multi-mission heavy lift helicopters.
Two of the contracts, which were signed in the afternoon between teams from Boeing headquarters in the US and Indian defence ministry officials, were for the “direct commercial sale” (DCS) part of the contracts. This includes the entire Chinook helicopter, and the flying portion of the Apache (less engines), as well as logistic support, spares and services.
The purchase of the Apache weaponry and radar was signed separately as a “foreign military sale” (FMS) purchase by the Indian defence ministry, which signed a “letter of agreement” (LoA) to this effect with the Pentagon. The FMS portion of the sale includes munitions, training, aircraft certification, and components like engines, electro-optical sensors and the radar.
“Contracts for purchase of 15 #Chinook and 22 #Apache Helicopters signed”, tweeted defence ministry spokesperson, Sitanshu Kar, late on Monday evening. He did not release further details.
The value of the deal for both helicopters, including DCS and FMS portions of the sale, is approximately $3 billion.
According to the contract signed, Boeing will start delivering the Chinook and Apache helicopters 36 months from today. The entire delivery is to be completed in 48 months from the signing of the contract.
Both helicopters will be delivered in fly-away condition, i.e. fully-built and ready for operations. Since Boeing is committed to a 30 per cent offset liability, there may be some portions that are built in India.
Already, Indian companies are involved in the building of the Chinook. Bangalore-based Dynamatics Technologies builds the aft pylon and cargo ramps for the Chinook’s global supply chain.
Boeing sources say that additional Indian vendors are being scouted for building more components.
This contract will further consolidate the US position as India’s second-biggest arms supplier, behind only Russia.
The Apache AH-64E is the world’s most fearsome attack helicopter. It is armed with anti-tank missiles, rockets and a chain gun that fires 625 rounds per minute that can rip apart an armoured vehicle. The Apache has flown close to a million mission hours in conflicts from the First Gulf War in 1991 to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Similarly, the Chinook, which first flew in the Vietnam War, but has continuously evolved in design, is one of the world’s most well-reputed heavy lift helicopters. It is capable of underslinging and lifting a light 155 millimetre howitzer to support troops in high altitudes of up to 15,000 feet.