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SOURCE:  SHIVA MUDGIL / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

IAF at the Boeing production facility in Mesa, Arizona, USA took delivery of the first AH-64E (I) Apache Guardian helicopter which is seen as a significant step towards modernization of Indian Air Force’s helicopter fleet with an option for more 39 helicopters but after a enduring a bitter turf war with Indian Army which funded the procurement .

Next Six AH-64 E (I) helicopter will be part of Army Aviation Corps rather then IAF and IA will continue to push for the transfer of current fleet of 22 Apache back to it but Ministry of Defense (MOD) is keen to avoid duplication of assets and effective use of system and with growing need for Attack helicopters in Army Aviation Corps is it time for to invest in the development of Desi Apache attack helicopters ?

HAL’s Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) will be entering limited production by end of this year and Army Aviation Corps will be biggest operator of the type with confirm orders for 114 units and with Armed Variant of ALH-Dhruv WSI aka Rudra both Light attack helicopters will form the backbone of the Army Aviation Corps which will be deployed in support of Strike formation for Anti-Armour warfare but need for Heavy Attack Helicopters is need of the hour and why investing in local development makes more sense.

According to internal army procurement requirements, Army Aviation Corps will require over 200 Attack Helicopters of mixed configuration and type to provide effective aerial protection for its battlefield coverage to its strike corps. LCH will make the bulk of the Army Aviation Corps requirements due to its effectiveness at high altitudes and to provide cover fire to troops at loc positions but Strike corps which are required to move inside the enemy sector with strike formation requires the ability to carry more weapons and range which will be limited in LCH.

Single AH-64 E (I) can carry almost double the Armament then what LCH can carry and with the retirement of Mi-35 Hind by IAF which was also funded by IA, fleet of 22+6 AH-64 E (I) are not significant enough and their still be avoid for close to 80 more such Heavy helicopters and HAL needs to be commissioned to develop a new Heavy Attack Helicopter using LCH Baseline design as a reference point and Power-plant requirements can be met by sourcing of General Electric T700-GE-701 turboshafts or similar engines from other vendors to cut down the development phase.

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