New Delhi: After inducting the first lot of the US made Chinook helicopter, Indian Air Force (IAF) will have the deadly Apache Guardian helicopter flying the skies by July. The IAF was handed over the first AH-64E (I) – Apache Guardian helicopter by the US.

India had signed a contract for 22 of the Apache Guardian choppers with the US in September 2015. These helicopters will come in semi-knocked down (SKD) condition, which will then be reassembled in India and will undergo a series of tests before it is inducted into the service.

“Selected aircrew and ground crew have undergone training at the training facilities at US Army base in Fort Rucker, Alabama. These personnel will lead the operationalisation of the Apache fleet in the IAF,” said a senior official.

These flying birds are part of IAF’s modernisation process and have been customised to suit the service’s future requirements.

According to an IAF official, these helicopters are suitable in mountainous terrain and can carry out precision attacks at standoff range and operate in hostile airspace with threats from the ground.

How is the Apache Guardian helicopter a game changer?

Mean Machine

It is among the most lethal attacks helicopter in the world. The Apache has been in service since 1984 with over 2,100 machines produced. A total of 22 choppers are being bought for $ 1.4 billion. It is essentially a flying tank – a helicopter designed to survive heavy attack and inflict massive damage. It can zero in on specific targets, day or night, even in terrible weather. As you might expect, it is a terrifying machine to ground forces.

What it can do

The stealthy, versatile chopper is designed for all kinds of missions. Equipped with laser and infrared systems for weather, day-night operability, the Apache fires Hellfire missiles, besides its arsenal of 70 mm rockets and an automatic cannon. The ability of these helicopters, to transmit and receive the battlefield picture, to and from the weapon systems through data networking makes it that much more lethal. These attack helicopters will provide a significant edge in any future joint operations in support of the land forces.

What it means for India

India currently has the Russian Mi 35 attack helicopter, but it was explicitly designed to carry troops into enemy territories whereas the Apache will be the first pure attack helicopter in India’s possession. Moreover, the Russian origin Mi 35 has been operated for years and is now on the verge of retirement.