Decision Time Come For Indian Attack Helicopter Tender

The Indian armed forces’ quest to buy 22 modern attack helicopters is nearing decision time as the trails of the Boeing AH64 D Apache and the MiL Mi-28NE attack helicopters have been completed and final evaluation is on.

  A final decision could be on hand before the middle of this year.
With the Indian MoD receiving a whopping $36.03 billion for hardware purchase in the 2011-12 Indian budget, indications are that the attack helicopter procurement will go through this year.

While the formidable Apache AH64 D is considered a strong contender thanks to its battle proven capability in Afghanistan and in the Middle East and its package of weapons and technology never before seen in a helicopter in India, the Mi-28NE is a new generation attack helicopter capable of attacking ground targets as well as having the capacity of ar-to-air combat.

The Mi-28NE (NATO reporting name HAVOC) is a Russian all-weather day-night military tandem two-seat anti-armour attack helicopter.

Expecting an early decision on the attack helicopter deal, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified the US Congress earlier this year, for a possible sale of 50 T700-GE-701D engines, 12 AN/APG-78 Fire Control Radars, 12 AN/APR-48A Radar Frequency Interferometers, 812 AGM-114L-3 Hellfire Longbow missiles, 542 AGM-114R-3 Hellfire II missiles, 245 Stinger Block I-92H missiles, and 23 Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensors. The equipment constitutes the foreign military sales component of the sale while the 22 AH-64D Block III Apache platforms will be sold directly by Boeing to India, should it win the contract.

The Mi-28NE matches, if not exceeds the Apache in terms of firepower and self-protection. Information obtained from Helicopter experts says that the five-bladed main rotor of the Mi-28NE, when compared to the four bladed Apache rotor, offers better stability in flight and less vibration during target designation. The Mi-28 NE, which is heavier than the Apache by approximately 3 tonnes, has more effective armor. It has two heavily armored cockpits, a windshield able to withstand hits from 7.62-12.7 caliber bullets.

At the sides, the Mi-28NE according to the tests performed by the manufacturer can sustain the projectiles up to 20 mm.

The main gun of the Mi-28NE- 30mm automatic dual feed gun 2A42 is taken from the known infantry combat vehicle BMP2.

That way rounds from High Explosive Incendiary to Armor-Piercing Discarding Sabot can be used. Using this gun, the helicopter can attack medium armored targets, infantry as well as targets in the air.

Its effective range both in the air and on ground varies from 2 to 3 km compared to about 1.5 km of the Apache’s main gun.

The 2A42 main gun has also proved to work in conditions of high dustiness and humidity.

In terms of missiles, the Mi-28NE uses the Ataka missile racks along with B-13L rocket pods, each able to carry S-13 rockets. Other rocket options include the S-8 rockets. The Atakas have 4 variants for different tasks. The 9M120 Tandem High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) warhead variant is used against tanks fitted with Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA), its penetrative ability is stated at 800 mm Rolled Homogeneous Armour (RHA). The 9M120F Thermobaric variant is used against infantry, buildings, bunkers, and caves. The 9M120O expanding rod warhead variant is used against other helicopters. All the variants have a range of 6 km. The 9M120M improved version has a longer range (8 km) and better penetration (900 mm of RHA).
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