With the Indian Air Force embarking on modernisation, the skies over different parts of the country will witness yet another high-profile test with evaluations of attack helicopters due to start this summer.
Seeking to get off the mark, Boeing is fielding the AH-64D Apache helicopter for the trials, Dean Millsap, regional director, Asia Pacific International Business Development, told a group of visiting Indian journalists here.
Mr. Millisap said an IAF team was due to arrive in the United States and thereafter dates for the trials in different weather conditions would be finalised. Boeing is among the international companies that responded to the Request for Proposal (RFP) issued by the IAF last year for supply of 22 attack helicopters.
These will replace the Russian-made attack helicopters being operated by the IAF. Boeing is also offering Chinooks, its tandem rotor, twin engine, heavy lift twin rotor helicopters. The deal is estimated to be around $ 2 billion.
The Boeing representative told the journalists, after a tour of the facility where Chinooks are manufactured, that in the case of Apache, India would get the Block 3 helicopter, the same version that was being acquired by the U.S. Air Force.
Since 1984, over 1,700 Apache attack helicopters have been manufactured and Block 3 came on the assembly line last year equipped with improved target detection, increased situational awareness and survivability. One of the features, he said, was connectivity with unmanned aerial vehicles.
The present-day Apache helicopters can perform multimissions, including with fire-and-forget missiles, auxiliary fuel tanks, air-to-air missiles, crashworthy structure, advanced sensors, advanced targeting sight and integrated electronic maintenance.
Boeing is also augmenting its manufacturing facility to meet its orders by ramping up production from 4.5 Chinooks a month to six by 2011. The company is in the race for 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft and has completed a set of trials.