The United Sates Department of Defence, more commonly referred to as the Pentagon, is asking the US Congress to approve a possible sale of 22 AH-64D Apache Block III attack helicopters to India, prior to a possible selection by New Delhi. The Indian Air Force is evaluating the Block III Apache among several other options for the IAF's next-generation attack helicopter.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, a department of the Pentagon, has notified the US Congress on a possible Foreign Military Sale of these helicopters. The entire package is worth a potential $1.4 billion.
Also in contention is the Russian Mi-28N Havoc attack helicopter as an alternative replacement for the Indian Air Force's existing fleet of Mi-25 Hind.
Already eliminated from consideration are the European contenders, the Eurocopter Tiger and AgustaWestland A129 Mangusta. The indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is not an alternative for this programme either.
The Indian Air Force has already conducted field trials for the Apache Block III helicopters in July 2010. As is the norm, the 'hot and cold' tests took place in the Thar Desert and in the Himalayan region of Ladakh. These sites represent the extreme weather conditions that the air force could find itself operating in.
The Russian helicopter has not yet been cleared for testing in India. While India has not decided about the type of helicopters it will buy, Boeing and the Pentagon are requesting Congress approval in advance of a potential sale to prevent export limitation issues.