Do this math: 22 AH-64E Apache helicopters in 2015 cost $2.1 billion, or Rs 14,910 crore, and six of these in 2020 cost Rs 6,600 crore. In just five years, the cost of one helicopter jumped by 62 per cent.
Yes, about Rs 1,100 crore each is what the Army will pay for six iconic pure attack helicopters that come armed with the state-of-the-art weapon system and are a big boost to the military’s firepower.
Before you start outraging over the overpriced helicopters, which is due to the military’s mistake, here’s a caveat. Remember that the price also includes the cost for the simulators, creation of infrastructure and performance-based logistics, which will also take care of spares, besides the training of the initial group of pilots.
But the difference in the cost is an important window into the silos that Indian armed forces operate in.
The deal for the Army came after a fight with the Indian Air Force (IAF) during the UPA government. While the Army was of the view that the attack choppers should go to them, the IAF did not want to lose its position since it has traditionally played the integrated combat aviation cover to the Army’s Strike Corps.
Former IAF chief N.A.K Browne had even said that he could not allow “little air forces doing things of their own”.
To buy peace between the warring services, it was decided by then-UPA government that while the IAF will get the first 22 helicopters, the future purchase will go to the Army.
With the final clearances for both IAF and Army deals coming through during the Narendra Modi government, India ended up paying for two separate training process, infrastructure creation, spares, simulators, etc.