The deal for six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters for the Indian Army, estimated to cost around $930 million, is likely to be signed early next year, Army sources said on Friday. These are in addition to 22 Apaches being inducted by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
“It is in advanced stage and the file is now with the Cabinet Committee on Security [CCS]. We expect the deal to be signed early next year,” an Army source said. The helicopters should start coming in by 2022, the source added. The Army will also soon start receiving the indigenously built Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) along with the IAF.
In August 2017, the Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by then Defence Minister Arun Jaitley approved the purchase of six Apache attack helicopters from the U.S. for the Army.
For this, India is exercising the optional clause in the original deal for 22 Apaches signed in November 2015 worth ₹13,951.57 crore through the Foreign Military Sales programme. The optional clause that has a provision for 11 helicopters. The Army had made a pitch for all of them, but the government had limited it to six.
In June 12, the U.S. State department approved the sale of six additional Apaches for the Indian Army. The Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) had then stated in a notification to the U.S. Congress that the deal would be worth $930 million.
The IAF has recently inducted the first batch of eight Apaches based in Pathankot. All 22 Apaches are expected to be delivered by 2020 and will replace the ageing Russian Mi-35 attack helicopters in service.
Currently, the Army Aviation Corps operates only smaller Cheetah and ALH (Advance Light Helicopters) that weigh less than five tonnes.
All bigger helicopters, including the Mi-35s and fixed wing aircraft are operated by the IAF.