UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced this morning, July 11, on the opening day of the Farnborough International Air Show, that Boeing will deliver 50 AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters to the Army Air Corps. (AAC).
A $2.3bn Foreign Military Sales agreement, signed between the UK and US governments to acquire these helicopters ‘off-the-shelf’, also includes an initial maintenance support contract, plus spares and a simulator.
In order to gain maximum value for money, some systems from the AAC’s existing fleet will be incorporated into the new helicopters where possible. This will include the Modernised Target Acquisition and Designation System, along with the Longbow fire control radar.
David Pitchforth, vice president and managing director of Boeing Defence UK Limited, said: “This is not only a major boost to the British Army but it will also mean long-term, sustained jobs in the UK, as the vast majority of the training, maintenance, repair and overhaul will be done here over the service life of the aircraft. We are working closely with our extensive UK supply chain, including Leonardo Finmeccanica Helicopters (formerly AgustaWestland), to support initial operating capability of the aircraft in 2022”.
Boeing has a long-standing relationship with Leonardo on the existing Apache programme. Boeing says it will increase spending with UK suppliers and is in advanced discussions with Leonardo on the AH-64E contract and other opportunities. The new UK AH-64Es will replace the AAC’s current fleet of 67 older model WAH-64D Apache AH1s, which are due to be withdrawn from service in 2023/4. The first AAC AH-64Es are due to come off the production line in 2020, with initial operating capability anticipated in 2022.
To date, Boeing has delivered 149 AH-64Es to the US Army, logging over 60,000 flight hours, and 17,000 combat flying hours.