September 19, 2015

Ahead of Modi's visit, India set to buy choppers worth $3bn from US

The finance ministry has finally given a green signal to acquisition of 22 Apache attack and 15 Chinook heavy deployment helicopters worth $3.1 billion from US defence major Boeing after a delay of nearly three years and 13 price extensions.
The deal is expected to cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) next Tuesday, before Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarks on his United Nations General Assembly visit to New York.
With Boeing and US Army Security Assistance Command threatening to escalate the price after September 30 by nearly 40% after holding it steady since 2009, finance minister Arun Jaitley, defence minister Manohar Parrikar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval put their heads together this week.
“We have conveyed our no objections to the deal being considered by the CCS,” said a senior finance ministry official.
India plans to purchase 22 Apache AH 64D Longbow helicopters with purchase option of another 11 at the cost of $2 billion. This state-of-the-art attack helicopter will be acquired with Hell Fire missiles and around 8,000 rockets.
The helicopter has night vision capability, stealth characteristics and beyond visual range missiles.
Apart from this, India will acquire 15 CH-47 Chinook helicopters with options of another six at the cost of $1.1 billion. A twin-rotor helicopter, Chinook has proved its worth in US operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and will be used by Indian Air Force for rapid insertion of troops in high altitude areas.
India has vintage attack and heavy deployment helicopters only on paper.
The acquisition process of the two helicopters was started in 2009 and was expected to be completed by December 2012. However, due to bureaucratic delays both in the defence ministry and finance ministry, the acquisition has been virtually hanging fire since 2013, following completion of all negotiations.


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