Fuselages of six Apache helicopters that the government has planned to procure for the Army from US aviation major Boeing will be manufactured at a Hyderabad facility, a senior Boeing India official said here on Tuesday.
The defence ministry had in 2017 approved the procurement of six Apache helicopters for the Army, along with weapons systems, from Boeing at a cost of Rs 4,168 crore. This will be the Army’s first fleet of attack helicopters.
The Indian Air Force had also signed a multi-billion-dollar contract with the US government and Boeing Ltd in September 2015 for 22 Apache helicopters, out of which eight were inducted into the IAF on Tuesday and the rest are expected to be delivered by 2020.
Asked by when the remaining Apache helicopters will be delivered, Boeing India President Salil Gupte said, “Delivery of Apaches are on schedule.”
He was speaking on the sidelines of a ceremony at the Pathankot Air Force Station for induction of the Apache AH-64E attack helicopters into the IAF.
“Twenty-two Apache helicopters are to be delivered (to the IAF) by Boeing. The company stands behind these copters and will be providing sustainment services for the Apaches for years and years to come,” Gupte told reporters.
Asked if there was any timeline for delivery of Apache helicopters for the Army, he said there is “no timeline” as of now.
“We have worked very closely with the Indian Army on requirements and will work with the order process as we move forward,” the Boeing India president said.
About the company’s participation in the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative on Apache manufacturing, Gupte said there is a facility in Hyderabad which would become the hub for manufacturing of fuselages for AH-64 Apache helicopters, not just for India but also for global customers.
“While these eight Apache helicopters (inducted today) are from the period before the production lines (in Hyderabad) were ramped up, and were assembled elsewhere with final assembly in Phoenix, Arizona (in the US), but the six Apaches, we are working through with the Army, their fuselages will be absolutely made in India,” he said.
Tata Boeing Aerospace Ltd (TBAL), a joint venture between Boeing Co. and Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) in March 2018 had inaugurated its facility to produce fuselages for the AH-64 Apache helicopter in Hyderabad.
About the Hyderabad facility, he said the line is moving into phased production and it is part of the company’s way of getting the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative move forward.
“So, the fuselages are being made in Hyderabad are not just for India but the entire world. It is a global manufacturing facility for Apache fuselage,” Gupte said, adding operations at the facility have been “ramped up”.
On Apaches delivered to the IAF, he said this is the same variant of Apache AH-64E being used by the US Army.
In his address during the induction ceremony, the Boeing India president said, “We are proud that the IAF has chosen Boeing as a partner in its modernisation journey… Some of the specifications of these Apache AH-64E attack helicopters have been tailored to meet IAF’s requirements, to support its operational needs and mission readiness.”
Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa too said that these Apache helicopters have been modified to suit the “exacting standards” demanded by the IAF.
Asked, what some of the modification done for IAF, Gupte said, “Some of the specific requirement were on aeronautical performance and specific requirements for missile system. Others are weaponry and radar along with some other parts of the helicopter.”