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Sikkim gets the Apache to guard its borders with China

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Gangtok, Feb 19: The Indian Air Force (IAF) had for the first time on Thursday deployed its most advanced Apache fighter helicopters in Sikkim, a frontier state with China as border tensions with the neighbouring country shows little to no signs of waning down.

Two of four districts — North and East Sikkim — shares borders with China along the eastern sector of the Line of Actual Control along with Arunachal Pradesh.

On Thursday, the Apache helicopter was first flown during the second day of the visit of Air Marshal Amit Dev, Air Officer Commanding in Chief of the Eastern Air Command at their forward base in North Sikkim district, a few km from the borders.

“During the visit he also interacted with the aircrew of Apache Unit, which has been deployed in the Eastern sector for the first time,” a press statement mentioned.

This was one of the 22 Apache helicopters India had procured from the American aircraft manufacturer Boeing along with 15 Chinooks by signing a multi-billion-dollar contract last September 2015.

India is one of 17 nations to select the Apache and has the most advanced variant, the AH-64E Apache. The Apache helicopters have been modified according to the needs of the IAF.

It is a twin-turboshaft attack helicopter with a tailwheel-type landing gear arrangement and a tandem cockpit for a crew of two. It features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems among other features.

The Air Marshal, during his two-day visit, had also interacted with senior officers of the Indian Army and discussed ways to synergise and support the efforts of the Army along with reviewing the Op’s preparedness.

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