Apache choppers to be with the IAF: Browne

Against the backdrop of Army’s plans to seek transfer of attack helicopters from the IAF, Air Force Chief N A K Browne on Sunday said the soon-to-be-procured Apache choppers from the US would remain with it as it was an ongoing acquisition.

“The Apaches are going to be with us only as it is an ongoing acquisition process,” Air Chief Marshal Browne said on the sidelines of a 1971 war anniversary function.
When asked to clarify whether the Apaches being procured from the US would be with the IAF or the Army.

Browne said the Apaches are not just for taking out enemy tanks or for air-to-ground operations but they can be used for multiple tasks such as taking out enemy radar stations and for air-to-air missions.

Recently, the Army had said that it was planning to send a proposal to the Defence Ministry for seeking transfer of attack helicopters from the Air Force at the earliest.
Sources said the Army had also suggested that the proposal would also include transfer of the Apache helicopters which are being procured.

The IAF and the Army in the past have been involved in a battle of sorts for controlling the attack helicopter fleet and the Defence Ministry has decided in favour of the Army.

The Army already has an aviation wing but Defence Minister A K Antony has approved a long-pending demand of the 1.3 million-strong force for attack helicopters, overruling stiff opposition from the Air Force.

The sanction has made it clear that all “future” procurements of such helicopters would be for the Army.

The Army had been demanding attack helicopters, saying these are mainly used for operations by it.

The IAF had been strongly resisting it, with Browne saying the country cannot afford to have “small air forces”.

The IAF is in final stages of completing the acquisition process of 22 Apache choppers from the US after the American machine edged out the Russian Mi-28 Havoc in the tender.

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