new delhi - The US is offering 245 Stinger missiles to India as part of a weapons package for the Apache attack choppers being acquired by the air force. “245 air-to-air Stinger missiles and 56 launchers are included in the package for the Apache helicopters,” the Press Trust of India reported quoting officials of the Raytheon – manufactures of the missiles.
“The Stinger compliments the advanced performance of the Apache by providing the IAF with the critical air-to-air defence capability,” they said.
India has selected the American Apache helicopter for its requirement of 22 attack helicopters which will have both air-to-ground and air-to-air roles in the service.
“Yes, Apache is final now,” IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne had recently told a press conference when asked if the air service was procuring the American choppers. The two sides are at present negotiating the contract.
The American helicopter edged out the Russian Mi-28 in the race for the IAF contract.
The surface-to-air version of the Stinger missile is widely credited for the collapse of Russian helicopter fleet in Afghan war in 1980s and was also used by Pakistani troops to bring down an IAF Mi-17 helicopter during the Kargil war in 1999.
Commenting on its relations with Indian armed forces, Raytheon said it was “providing advanced air traffic management AutoTrac technology solution for the IAF” as part of Modernisation of Air Field Infrastructure (MAFI) project.
Under the MAFI programme, India is planning to upgrade 30 military air fields to enable them to carry out night operations and operate large-bodied planes such as the C-17 Heavy-lift transport aircraft.