New Delhi (Sputnik) — The US government has approved the sale of six Boeing AH-64E Apache helicopters complete with weapon systems and support equipment worth $930 million to the Indian military. The final go-ahead for the sale was given by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on Tuesday following which the Pentagon sent a notification to Congress for its approval. It is noteworthy that no US lawmaker has so far voiced strong concerns over the deal.
"This support for the AH-64E will provide an increase in India's defensive capability to counter ground-armored threats and modernize its armed forces. India will have no difficulty absorbing the helicopters and support equipment into its armed forces," the Pentagon said in a notification to Congress.
The Pentagon has also mentioned that the proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.
India's Defense Ministry had sent a letter of request for six Apache attack helicopters to the US administration in February of this year as part of a follow-up order under the 2015 agreement, comprising an initial order of 22 such helicopters for the Indian Air Force. The six additional helicopters are intended for the Indian Army for deployment to the rugged Himalayan terrain.
US state dept approves selling of 6 AH-64E Apache helicopters to India at the cost of $930 m (rs 6000 cr). pic.twitter.com/tMsYlIysQJ— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) June 13, 2018
The approved weapons comprise 30 mm cannons and ammunition; 180 AGM-114L-3 Hellfire Longbow missiles; 90 AGM-114R-3 Hellfire-II missiles; 200 Stinger Block I-92H missiles; rockets; as well as training and dummy missiles.
Repair and return support, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, US government, and contractor engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support are also included.
Ever since the original order for 22 Apache helicopters was placed in 2015, the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force have been in a tug of war to acquire the aircraft. The earlier government, led by Dr. Manmohan Singh, had said that any future procurement of attack helicopters would be for the Indian Army. However, the Indian Air Force laid claim to all 22 helicopters and even refused to heed the Indian Army's proposal to share half of the fleet. The Indian Army then moved a separate proposal seeking 39 attack helicopters but the defense ministry gave its nod for only six last August.