The United Kingdom’s request for the re-manufacture of fifty WAH-64 Apache helicopters to AH-64E Apache Guardian standard has been approved by the United States. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on August 26, 2015. The deal is estimated to cost $3 billion.
The AH-64E variant features improved digital connectivity over previous models, the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System, more powerful T700-GE-701D engines with upgraded transmission to accommodate more power, capability to control unmanned aerial vehicle, full IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) capability, improved landing gear and additional upgrades.
Included in the deal will be:
“One hundred and ten (110) T-700-GE-701D Engines (100 installed and 10 spares), the refurbishment of fifty-three (53) AN/ASQ-170 Modernized Target Acquisition and Designation Sights (M-TADS) (50 installed and 3 spares), the refurbishment of fifty-three (53) AN/AAR-11 Modernized Pilot Night Vision Sensors (PNVS) (50 installed and 3 spares), the refurbishment of fifty-two (52) AN/APG-78 Fire Control Radars (FCR) (50 installed and 2 spares) with fifty-five (55) Radar Electronics Units (Longbow Component) (50 installed and 5 spares), fifty-two (52) AN/APR-48B Modernized Radar Frequency Interferometers (50 installed and 2 spares), sixty (60) AAR-57(V) 3/5 Common Missile Warning Systems (CMWS) with 5th Sensor and Improved Countermeasure Dispenser (50 installed and 10 spares), one hundred and twenty (120) Embedded Global Positioning Systems (GPS) with Inertial Navigation (100 installed and 20 spares), and three hundred (300) Apache Aviator Integrated Helmets.
Also included are AN/AVR-2B Laser Detecting Sets, AN/APR-39D(V)2 Radar Signal Detecting Sets, Integrated Helmet and Display Sight Systems (IHDSS-21), Manned-Unmanned Teaming International (MUMT-I), KOR-24A Link 16 terminals, M206 infrared countermeasure flares, M211 and M212 Advanced Infrared Countermeasure Munitions (AIRCMM) flares, Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) transponders, ammunition, communication equipment, tools and test equipment, training devices, simulators, generators, transportation, wheeled vehicles, organizational equipment, spare and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support. “
It’s understood that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) are keen to have the aircraft re-manufactured in the United States but this option will almost certainly mean jobs being lost at AgustaWestland. The UK had originally purchased 67 Apache aircraft, the first 8 helicopters were built by Boeing; the remaining 59 were assembled by AgustaWestland at Yeovil. It is understood that this arrangement more than doubled their cost.
However, the approval from the State Department does not mean that US firms will get the work, no decision regarding whether or not the work will stay in the UK is expected from the government until next year.The MoD said:
“We are currently in the assessment phase of the programme which will supply 50 latest generation Apache helicopters to the UK. This phase includes establishing best value-for-money for the taxpayer and will conclude in spring 2016, with a decision on procurement then following.”
The AH-64E variant also features significant upgrades to better facilitate maritime operations, something very important to the UK as the last Strategic Defence Review called for Apaches to undertake amphibious attack missions, operating from the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, the Invincible class aircraft carriers and their successors, the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers. As part of the upgrades found on the new variant, the fire-control radar will be enhanced to work better in the littoral environment close to shore.
According to Col Jeff Hager, the US Army’s Apache programme manager.
“We’ll extend the radar and we will also broaden its bandwidth to pick up littoral small ships and large ships during different sea states, the software-based maritime targeting mode upgrade is part of a production Lot 6 ‘capability insertion’ the service plans for the AH-64E.”
The upgrade will provide the Apache fleet with much greater operational capability when deployed and greatly enhance their effectiveness over land and sea.