IAF Set to Operate Formidable Apache Helicopters and Rafale MMRCAs
India Strategic|August 2019

New Delhi. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to operate the new generation Boeing Apache attack helicopter from September, and Dassault Aviation’s Rafale Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) from around May 2020.

Gulshan Luthra

It is after a few decades that IAF is getting access to flying machines with advanced radars and precision weapon systems, and the induction of these two new-generation combat helicopter and aircraft will formidably boost its offensive capability.

The Apache is actually a flying tank, and some of the machines with IAF will also be equipped with Lockheed Martin’s Longbow radar and Hellfire missile with capability to locate and delete hostile targets in thick jungle foliage. According to Air Vice Marshal Rajesh Isser, “the Apache is a dream-machine, incorporating the latest in technology and concepts in warfighting and conflict-management across the spectrum.”

The Apache, also known as a tank killer, played an effective role in the 1991 Gulf War. In the Operation Desert Storm then, the US Army used this helicopter in combination with US Air Force’s A-10 Warthog to decimate the Iraqi armour formations.

I had a chance to see and – enthusiastically like a boy – touch and feel the helicopter when it was brought to the Dubai Air Show in November 1991 after the liberation of Kuwait. A US Army officer explained some of the machine’s features, including the bullet proof cockpit shell, made of Kevlar and composites to protect the pilots. Later, in the recent years, I had another chance to closely see the Apache’s Mesa production facility, courtesy Boeing.

Rafale has proved itself in Syria where the UAE Air Force deployed it for precision strikes.

Notably, IAF has been asking for new machines for the last three decades for periodic and planned replacement of its older aircraft, and it’s only now, in the recent years, that aircraft of different types, combat and transport helicopters as well as aircraft have started coming.

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