India seeks more Apaches and Chinooks

Avatar for Glenn SandsBy Glenn Sands | June 14, 2022

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 22 seconds.

India is currently negotiating the purchase of additional CH-47F(I) Chinooks and AH-64E(I) Apaches, according to Torbjorn Sjogren, vice president of international government and defense, Boeing. 

The Indian Air Force operates 22 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters purchased from Boeing through the Foreign Military Sales program of the U.S. government for US$3 billion in September 2015. 

During a visit by President Donald Trump to India in February 2020, India signed a deal for six more Apaches for its army at a cost of around $800 million. 

Sjogren revealed that discussions are ongoing for a further seven Chinooks. He said: “The Army is looking for more Apaches and Indian Air Force is looking for more Chinooks.”

India is seeking to increase the size of its attack helicopter fleet with more AH-64E(I) Apaches. Boeing Photo

During the Aero India Show 2021, Michael Koch, vice president, Boeing Defense, Space and Security, India, reportedly said: “Our analysis is that there is a requirement of 39 attack helicopters to support that specific requirement. If you have three strike brigades and if you typically have a squadron of 13 helicopters for a strike brigade, then you are looking at operational requirements.” This comment was based at the time on a figure of 39 Apaches being mentioned by senior staff within the Indian Army.

The additional Chinooks will likely take on some of the roles that had previously been performed by the Mi-26, which, due to poor serviceability, have remained underutilized since the first pair entered operational service in May 1986. Four eventually entered service, with an order for two more cancelled.

In December 2010, one Mi-26 was lost in a crash, reducing the fleet to just three examples, all of which required overhauling by this stage.

An MoD directive from 2012 states that all future attack helicopter acquisitions go to the Indian Army, yet the debate that challenges this directive has still not been resolved. It runs the potential risk of two services operating the same type of helicopter in small numbers with the duplication of training, equipment and maintenance costs. With these additional Apaches coming, India may need to look at combining its future AH-64 fleet into one amalgamated unit.         

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