The Full Rate Lot 5 production of 35 Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters is about to conclude. With completion date 31 July 2015 in sight, Boeing was awarded an additional 591,2 million US dollars to the earlier contract, on 19 February 2015.
Boeing is producing the newest version of the attack helicopter in Mesa, Arizona. The aircraft manufacturer hopes for a lot more than just the 35 it is currently working on. Both Boeing and the US Army confirmed last month they were talking about a new agreement for a whopping 240 AH-64Es, to be procured through fiscal years 2017 to 2021, for an estimated 4 billion dollars.
Last year the Apache Guardian was fielded in a real-war theatre for the first time, when 12 AH-64Es deployed together with 10 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawks and 15 Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warriors with the 229th Aviation Regiment out of Joint Base Lewis McCord in Washington state to Afghanistan. Flying mainly out of Kandahar the Apache Guardians clocked about 11,000 flight hours.
Compared to earlier versions of the Apache, the Echo model has full digital cockpit avionics, a more powerful engine that also makes the chopper go faster (155 knots vs 125 on the D-model), rotor blades that can sustain damage better, a larger range and a longer in-the-air time.
The US Army will convert 634 AH-64D to the AH-64E standard, and get 56 new build Echos in the next decade. The AH-64E is in use by / ordered by Indonesia (8), the Republic of China Army (Taiwan, 29), the Republic of Korea Army (South Korea; 36) and the Royal Saudi Land Forces (unknown number).
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: An AH-64E Apache Guardian from 1st Armed Reconnaissance Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade and a Mi-35 Attack Helicopter from 31st Squadron, Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Darat, take off for a flight together during a training mission in Semarang, Indonesia on 9 September 2014. Part of Garuda Shield 2014. Indonesia has ordered 8 AH-64Es to complement its Hind fleet (Image © 25th Combat Aviation Brigade / US Army)