The first four of the 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters being acquired for the Indian Air Force (IAF) arrived at the Hindon airbase near Delhi on July 27.
The arrival of the world’s most lethal helicopter gunship coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Kargil War of 1999, when India sorely missed an attack helicopter capable of operating at high-altitudes while evicting Pakistani intruders from mountain tops. A Mi-17 doubling up as a weaponised helicopter was shot down with a Pakistani Stinger in the early stages of the war.
India signed a $1.4 billion contract with the US in 2015 for 22 Apache helicopters with an options clause for six more. The first AH-64 was handed over to the IAF at Mesa in Arizona, US, in May this year.
Within a few days of the delivery of the first lot of four Apaches on July 27, some more will reach Hindon. After the initial induction procedures, these gunships will be based at Pathankot. The IAF will move half of the fleet to Jorhat in Assam after all 22 are received next year.