First batch of Apache helicopters arrive; Why AH-64E were preferred over Russian Mi-28N
New Delhi, July 27: India had placed an order for 22 Apache attack helicopters US aerospace major Boeing and the first batch of four AH-64E Apaches arrived at the Indian Air Force's Hindon Airbase in Ghaziabad today.
The IAF had signed a multi-billion dollar contract with the US government and Boeing Ltd in September 2015 for 22 Apache helicopters. The AH-64E Apache is a leading multi-role attack helicopter and is flown by the US Army.
Please note that a deal of six Apaches for the Indian Army is not part of this delivery. That deal is separate. Defence Ministry in 2017 approved the procurement of six Apache helicopters along with weapons systems from Boeing at a cost of Rs 4,168 crore for the Army.
AH-64 Apache vs Russian Mi-28N:
When India set out to buy attack helicopters, it had to choose between the Apache AH-64D Longbow and the Russian made Mi-28N "Night Hunter".
The Boeing AH-64 Apache is a four-blade, twin-turboshaft attack helicopter with a tailwheel-type landing gear arrangement and a tandem cockpit for a two-man crew. It features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems. It is armed with a 30 mm M230 chain gun carried between the main landing gear, under the aircraft's forward fuselage.
The Mi-28 combat helicopter has been developed by Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant and is known by the NATO codename Havoc. In August 1996 Mil rolled out a prototype of the day and night capable version, the Mi-28N Night Havoc. The first production Mi-28N took its first flight in April 2004 and began flight testing with the Russian Air Force in June 2005.
Several experts believe that the Mi-28N was just as good as the AH-64D Apache Longbow. Experts also are of opinion that in terms of flight performance, arms specifications, combat survivability, and operating convenience Mi-28N is superior to Apache. But, when it comes to shooting accuracy, the US chopper is better than the Russian aircraft.
Also, the ammunition of the Russian helicopter is smaller. Another reason stated by experts is that India wants to diversify its arms procurement and not depend on only one supplier. Indian already has many defence equipment, choppers and fighter jets made by Russia. India has tried to move to even Israel and France in recent times for its defence procurement than depend only on Russia like it used to be some two decades back. India has also not been satisfied with Russia's execution of its obligations.
Defence journals have quoted Indian officials as saying that Russia does not meet the requirements of delivery dates, modernisation and repairs. Apache has also proved its mettle in many conflict zones world over including Afghanistan.