The Indian Air Force inducted eight US-made Apache AH-64E attack helicopters during an impressive ceremony at Pathankot fighter base in Punjab on Tuesday. The choppers will give more firepower to the Indian Air Force. Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa was the chief guest at the ceremony. A priest performed traditional puja before the formal induction. Air Chief Marshal along with Western Air Commander Air Marshal R Nambiar looked on as the Pandit chanted sacred mantras. India is the 16th country in the world to be operating the Apache attack helicopters. Flown by the US Army, the AH-64E Apache is one of the world's most advanced multi-role combat helicopters. The IAF had signed a multi-billion dollar contract with the US government and Boeing Ltd in September 2015 for 22 Apache helicopters.
Apart from the traditional puja, the Apache choppers also received stunning water cannon salute. Boeing India President Salil Gupte was seen handing over the ceremonial key of Apache attack helicopter to Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa during the event.
The first four of the 22 helicopters were handed over to the air force by Boeing on July 27. The delivery of the first batch of Apache helicopters to the IAF at the Hindan air base had come nearly four years after a multi-billion-dollar deal for the choppers was sealed.
Additionally, the 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. This will be its first fleet of attack choppers. By 2020, the IAF will operate a fleet of 22 Apaches. These first deliveries were ahead of schedule. The AH-64E Apache for the Indian Air Force completed successful first flights in July 2018. Boeing has delivered more than 2,200 Apaches to customers around the world since the aircraft entered production.
(With agency inputs)