Cabinet panel clears $3.1-bn Boeing copter deals ahead of Modi's US trip

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) today cleared proposals for purchase of  Apache and Chinook helicopters from aviation giant Boeing, in a deal worth over $3.1 billion, ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US.

The new 22 Apache attack and 15 heavy lift Chinook helicopters to be acquired from Boeing will replace the military's ageing Soviet-origin choppers.

The CCS, which met after a cabinet meeting, cleared the deals for both Apache and Chinook (helicopters), government sources said.

The contract will have clauses to place follow-on orders for 11 more Apaches and four extra Chinooks.

The deal, which has been pending since 2013, was to be signed after finalisation of price negotiations during the visit of US defence secretary Ashton Carter in June this year.

The helicopter deal has been approved despite more than 10 price revisions, including one involving changes suggested by India.

The Apache deal assumes technology transfer proportions with India having to sign a separate contract with the US government for its weapons, radars and electronic warfare suites, in addition to the one to be signed with Boeing for the helicopter.

The US has been pushing for this contract as part of the technology deal in India-US defence cooperation agreement as also to bolster American presence in India's expanding defence market.

US companies have secured defence contracts from India worth around $10 billion, including for P-8I maritime surveillance planes, C-130J 'Super Hercules' and C-17 Globemaster-III transport aircraft.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave for the US tomorrow to attend the UN General Assembly.

The Apache AH 64D Longbow helicopters are one of the most advanced multi-role combat helicopters, featuring all-weather and night fighting features, ability to track up to 128 targets in less than a minute and engage with 16, besides stealth characteristics, advanced sensors and beyond visual range Stinger missiles.

These helicopters have been effectively used in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq and had beaten off competition from Russia's Mi-28N Night Hunter and Mi-26 heavy-lift copters.

Separately, the Indian Army has sought a fleet of at least 39 of these attack helicopters, some of which it wants to deploy as part of a new mountain division it is raising along the disputed border with China, according to sources.

Besides, India will also be acquiring Hellfire missiles and rockets from the US.