MBDA is expected to conduct firings of its ‘Brimstone 2’ missile from a Boeing AH-64E Apache as part of an effort to persuade the British Army to integrate the weapon on its new helicopter fleet.
A spokesperson for the MoD said:
“During June, MBDA is being funded by MoD to carry out risk reduction/proof of concept firings of Brimstone off an AH64E using the Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight and fire-control radar. These firings support MBDA’s proposed missile solution for the UK buy of AH64E — Future Attack Helicopter Weapon (FAHW) — an enhanced Brimstone specifically designed to meet the British Army’s attack helicopter needs.”
Brimstone 2 will have an improved seeker, a more modular design and improvements to airframe and software for “an overall increase in performance with improvements in range and engagement footprint” including a “more than 200% increase” in maximum range.
In 2015, the United Kingdom requested the re-manufacture of fifty WAH-64 Apache helicopters to AH-64E Apache Guardian standard and this was quickly approved by the United States. It is understood that Boeing is offering the helicopters at a lower price by tacking them on to the end of a larger Apache order from the US military.
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 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.