Why India preferred US made Apache over Russian Mi-28N helicopter?
Armed with Hellfire and Stinger missiles, six Apache attack helicopters are set to become part of the Indian Army after the Defence Ministry on Thursday cleared a proposal to procure them.
The Army has been demanding such attack helicopters for a long time. The Army had originally sought the government's approval for the acquisition of 11 Apache helicopters from the US.
In 2015, the Indian Airforce had inked a deal for 22 such choppers. According to reports, the IAF had strongly opposed the creation of a separate mini-Air wing by the Army.
The Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter is the most advanced multi-role heavy attack helicopter in the world.
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.
AH-64 Apache vs Mi-28N:
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.