Apaches to enhance Air Force’s combat capability: IAF Chief









The Apache attack helicopters will enhance the operational capability of the IAF as a strike force, Air Force Chief BS Dhanoa said on Tuesday while officially inducting the first batch of these American-origin choppers into service.

He hailed the wide-ranging capabilities of the Apache attack choppers saying that with its induction, “the force has upgraded its inventory to the latest generation of attack helicopters.”

“These choppers have been modified to suit exactly the standards demanded by the IAF. I am very happy to note that the delivery schedule is on time,” he said while speaking at the induction ceremony of AH-64E Apache helicopters at the Pathankot Air Force station.

The Air Force Chief said Apache attack choppers are being purchased to replace the ageing Mi-35 helicopters.

“Apache attack choppers are being purchased to replace the ageing Mi-35. This is an advanced multi-mission helicopter that is being operated worldwide by many countries. The platform has been flying since the 80s and has proved itself as an operational success across the globe. It is one of the most fierce attack choppers along with the capability to shoot fire and forget ATGMs, rockets and other ammunitions,” IAF Chief said.

Dhanoa said the air-to-air missile capability on a helicopter is a first for the Indian Air Force.

“Its Fire control radars also give us a tremendous capability. It is capable of performing many missions — anti-armour operations, suppression of enemy air defence and battlefield airstrike roles. It has been a part of numerous historic inductions worldwide,” IAF Chief said.

Wishing the “125 Helicopter Squadron”, Dhanoa said, “The air and ground crew who have undergone training will soon utilise these machines to maximize its potential. I am sure this team will integrate the best practices learnt from the original equipment manufacturers and IAF ethos of “Mission First, People Always.” The Apaches will enhance the operational capability of the IAF as a strike force. I wish “125 helicopter squadron, The Gladiators”, the best of luck and happy landings.”

The Air Force Chief also lauded Mi-35 Choppers which are in the inventory of Air Force saying they have proved their mettle.

“IAF has been operating Mi-35 for the last three decades. The Mi-35s have proved their mettle in various exercises in India and also in UN peacekeeping operations in Sierra Leone and Congo. In the peacekeeping operation in July 2000, three Mi- 35 played a crucial role in “Operation Khukri” which was launched to rescue 200 peacekeepers being held hostage by rebel militia.” he said.

In a major boost to the Indian Air Force, eight Boeing AH- 64E Apache Guardian Attack Helicopters were inducted into the force on Tuesday.

Eight helicopters have been inducted into the air force in the first batch out of the 22 procured from the US. In September 2015, IAF had signed a contract with US Government and Boeing for these Apache helicopters.

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