|ARTWORK FOR LIVEFIST / SAURAV CHORDIA|
Of all the (now several) bits of U.S.-built kit that have entered Indian inventory in the last decade, the Apache stands out. In the catalogue of equipment the Pentagon opened up to the Indian government after the Kargil conflict, contracting for Apaches seemed a lot less likely than any of the other items India was interested in. The Apache was always going to be a complex item to contract, given the level of advancement in improved variants of the helicopter platform. That it took so long to nail down negotiations and sign up is testimony to the fact.
India has signed up for 22 of the AH-64E variant (the re-designated AH-64D Block III). Neither the Indian Air Force nor Boeing have revealed how many of the 22 will be Longbow versions, sporting the NorthropGrumman
AN/APG-78 'Longbow' fire control radar. In 2010, when the Indian Air Force opened the competition, it indicated that it wanted 12 Longbows. While it is not officially confirmed that this is the number that is finally being supplied as part of the 22, there's no reason to believe it isn't. And if 12 is the number of Longbows, it's higher than the 1-in-3 ratio the U.S. Army sports. Here's the most comprehensive set of schematics and specs on the AH-64E that India has chosen to acquire:
The specimen fielded by Boeing for three-week trials in 2010-11 was a modified Block II with a great deal of Block III parts, including composite rotor, fuel tanks etc. The platform had the performance of a Block III, says Boeing, but without the avionics.
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