The Indian Air Force on May 10 received the first of 22 Boeing AH-64D Apache Block III Longbow multirole combat helicopters in a formal ceremony at Boeing’s production facility in Arizona. This helicopter will be shipped to India by July. In the meantime, select IAF air and ground crews have conducted training at U.S. Army facilities at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
#ApacheInduction: First AH-64E (I) Apache Guardian helicopter was formally handed over to the IAF at Boeing production facility in Mesa, Arizona, USA on 10 May 19. Air Mshl AS Butola, represented the IAF & accepted the first Apache in a ceremony at Boeing production facility. pic.twitter.com/FzA0IfRine
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) May 11, 2019
India ordered the 22 Apache Block III Longbows on September 28, 2015, under a deal that included an option for 11 additional units.
The Indian Army has requested that the Defence Ministry exercise the 11-unit option so that it can absorb those AH-64Es into the Army Aviation Corps (AAC). India’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) wavered, but on August 17, 2017, agreed to allow the MoD to order six Apache Guardians – instead of the full 11‑unit complement – for the AAC.
Note: Indian Army Air Corps (AAC) is pursuing a separate acquisition track with an initial purchase of six AH-64Es under the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. AAC has plans to operate 3 separate AH-64E squadrons with a total of 39 helicopters.
— Franz-Stefan Gady (@HoansSolo) May 13, 2019
Under the proposed deal, the Army will receive the six Guardians armed with HELLFIRE and Stinger missiles at a cost of around $650 million. Though the deal was green-lighted by the DAC in August 2017, it was not until February 2018 that India issued a Letter of Request (LOR) to the U.S. government for the acquisition. That Foreign Military Sale (FMS) request, at an estimated $930 million. was then approved by the U.S. State Department, with notification sent to Congress on June 12, 2018.
The initial six-helicopter batch would be earmarked for the first of three Apache units assigned to each of the Army’s three strike corps.