08:13 GMT +324 January 2020
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    The Indian government is advancing the process of acquiring a half-dozen new Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, the Diplomat reports.

    New Delhi sent a letter of request (LoR) to the US government regarding a possible sale of the defense items, which constitutes one of the first steps in making an arms deal with Washington.

    While it remains unclear when the LoR was sent, an Indian official told the Hindustan Times on Tuesday, "the LoR was issued recently and now the US has to respond with a letter of acceptance (LoA) to take the Apache deal forward." Washington has about six months to return an LoA.

    The US Army is the main operator of Apache helicopters. Japan, Israel, Greece, the Netherlands, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates also fly Apaches.

    According to the Diplomat, the attack helicopters would join the Indian Army's Aviation Corps, (AAC) as opposed to the Indian Air Force.

    The Indian Defense Ministry approved funds to buy the helicopters last August. Eventually, the AAC will station three squadrons of Apaches along the India-China and India-Pakistan borders, the Diplomat added.

    While India seeks foreign-made military helicopters for its army, its military recently completed testing of domestically produced weaponized drones modeled after the United States' Predator MQ-1. The drones are part of sweeping efforts to reduce India's dependency on foreign-made defense articles.

    For its part, Pakistan has begun military exercises training its navy to fight against numerically superior forces. India and the US happen to fit that bill, Sputnik reported.

    India and China engaged in an intense border dispute in the Doklam area last year and just last month both sides barely avoided a similar standoff in the Arunachal Pradesh region following an alleged incursion by a Chinese road building team.


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