India approves deal to buy US military helicopters worth $ 650 million

Indian Defense Ministry agreed on Thursday to buy six attack helicopters from the US company Boeing, while India is strengthening its military strength amid border tensions with China and Pakistan, Indian officials said.

The military procurement board, which oversees major deals, agreed to give the green light for the purchase of six additional Apache helicopters, 22 of which were purchased in a 2015 deal worth 2.5 billion dollars.

Two Indian Defense Ministry sources, who did not reveal their identity, told Agence France-Presse that approval had been given to the army on the deal, without giving further details on the date of delivery.

“The Military Procurement Board has agreed to secure six Apache helicopters with related equipment for the army,” an Indian official told AFP by text message.

The first batch received by India from the 22 attack helicopters and carrying the Hellfire and Stinger missiles has replaced the old Indian Air Force fleet.

India hopes to deploy the helicopters on its high border, especially its eastern border with China, and a border dispute between the two sides broke out on a strategic Himalayan plateau where hundreds of Indian and Chinese troops have been facing for more than two months.

India is the world’s largest arms importer and tens of billions of dollars are being invested in modernizing its Soviet-era weapon. Large deals have been signed since Prime Minister Narendra Moody came to power in 2014