A contract modification detailed by the US Department of Defense has indicated that Boeing has been awarded $411 million for 38 Apache aircraft for the UK.

The UK previously announced it would upgrade 50 helicopters to the latest standard, it has been confirmed that the remaining number of 12 will be included in follow-on work, likely as new build air-frames.

In August 2015, the UK requested through a Foreign Military Sale, the upgrade of 50 of its Apaches to AH-64E standard. In July 2016, the UK placed an order for 50 AH-64Es through the US Foreign Military Sales programme instead of upgrading their AgustaWestland-built AH-64s. Leonardo Helicopters (formerly AgustaWestland) will continue to lead the support the existing Apache AH1s until they are retired from service in 2023–24.

A 9th of June contract modification notice read:

“The Boeing Company, Mesa, Arizona, was awarded a $410,916,893 modification (P00008) to foreign military sales (UK) contract W58RGZ-16-C-0023 for 38 Apache aircraft, three Longbow crew trainers, and associated spares.

Work will be performed in Mesa, Arizona, with an estimated completion date of Feb. 28, 2023. Fiscal 2010 other funds in the amount of $201,349,276 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity.”

Interestingly, the previous notice in May read:

“The Boeing Co., Mesa, Arizona, was awarded a $488,076,762 modification (P00007) to foreign military sales (United Kingdom) contract W58RGZ-16-C-0023 for the remanufacture of 38 AH-64 Apache aircraft, and to procure three Longbow crew trainers and associated spares.

Work will be performed in Mesa, Arizona, with an estimated completion date of May 31, 2024. Fiscal 2010 other funds in the amount of $488,076,762 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity.”

It is unclear what the change is.

Boeing will perform work in Mesa, Arizona until May 31, 2024.

The AH-64E Guardian features improved digital connectivity, the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System, more powerful T700-GE-701D engines with upgraded face gear transmission to accommodate more power, capability to control unmanned aerial vehicle, full IFR capability and improved landing gear.

The updated Longbow radar has an oversea capacity, potentially enabling naval strikes. The E model is fit for maritime operations, much like the British variant being replaced.

18 COMMENTS

  1. Glad to seeing we will still get 50 – I know many were afraid we were going to just get the 38 and the remaining 12 retired, sold or offered up for spares.

  2. This is an incredible price for what is an incredible piece of kit.

    At this price we should get another 100 over the next 10 years – its just too good a price to pass up.

    And then at least we dont get into the mess of placing massive orders that we cant afford.

    £200m p.a. For 10 sounds doable.

  3. Is the price low as reconditioned airframes? Probably how we are getting 50 for £400 million. Any new builds in this number?

    • If I read the article correctly the $411 million is only for 38 and the 12 new ones to bring it up to the 50 total “will be included in follow-on work, likely as new build air-frames.” which, given they don’t even know for sure whether they will be new-build, is presumably subject to a separate contract and price tag (and with the potential for that second contract to be scaled back or never placed at all if budgets are being squeezed – as with all UK defence procurement, hope for the best but prepare for the worst).

  4. What i don’t get, is we had 67 odd airframes but are only upgrading 38. I realise a few of the older frames are probably beyond repair, but this seems an extreme amount. It does kinda look like a cut in numbers on the qt.

    • 67 becomes 38 seems more likely.

      If they really intended to have 50, surely they would have upgraded 50 of the platforms rather than state it will be managed separately with the hope that it’s forgotten about in time.

      • I think that’s it. Maybe also though, the vagueness about whether the plan for the follow-on 12 will be new-build or not is because the whole plan goes something like this…

        We have 67 airframes in various states of wear and we are confident that we can salvage enough good parts to do remanufactures for 38.

        After the 38 are done see how many of the 67 we had to trash to get the parts for the 38, work out how many more good parts might be reusable from the remainder, and then decide how many of the extra 12 will need to be new-build and how many can be re-manufacture.

        That still gives the option to either quietly forget about the extra 12 or maybe only go ahead by adding for instance 5 or 6 to the re-manufacture contract (on the basis that is the number of good parts still left available) and quietly drop any idea of making the numbers up to 50 with new-builds (i.e. a sort of half-way house).

        • A really good interpretation and one i would love to be true, even though it would mean that our current fleet is in a terrible state.

  5. At $12m usd each this is the bargain of the cerntury and we should do whatever we can to get to 136 (8×16 +8)

    The reason some of the 67 we have are knackered is they have been overworked – which I think is a good thing as it shows useage and therefore value.

    We know these are great platforms and clearly in demand, given the lack of tank numbers we have this platform is absolutely core to our survival on the battlefield.

    Very worried if we have any less than 72. 38 is just not enough.

    • Like everything – we just don’t have enough. Not enough fleet escorts, submarines, tanks, fighters, MPA, servicemen….

      I really fear for defence after the election. Money will be thrown at the NHS, education, yet more foreign aid, etc to keep the left happy and the defence kitty will be raided – again – to help pay for it. This will only exacerbated further with the weak pound threatening F-35b and P8A purchases.

      I wish for once, that defence would get some real, genuine good fully funded investment instead of all the constant hollowing out but I fear it will never happen. Do we need to loose the next shooting war for the people and politicians to waken up and properly fund defence??? That would be simply unforgivable.

      • David

        I think it is already worse than we fear – as we piggy bank on the US all the time and they are clearly carrying us, which is both embarrassing and disappointing for those who feel compelled to serve our country.

        I actually think most of the budgets the government provide are good (inc the NHS) just badly mis-spent.

        I think you are sadly correct, but that should not stop us and sites like this pushing for more at every opportunity.

        I for one will never accept sending our forces out to fight without adequate equipment and the thing is we dont have to really. We just have to stop spending lots of money on average equipment.

  6. The option to buy or re-manufacture 50 Apache Guardian’s was signed in a contract between HMG and the U.S. government. I am sure the extra twelve order will go ahead because to default in any way would mean us paying compensation to Boeing and its suppliers for loss of profits, also it would be very bad for Anglo/US relations. Because there is such a long lead time, an order for a further twelve aircraft does not have to be put in until 2023 at the latest, therefore spreading the cost over six years.

    It will be interesting to see the results of a mini defence review and see if another AAC squadron is to be disbanded, then we will know one way or the other but personally I hope this won’t happen.

  7. With the result of the election we just might get a pleasant surprise. As far as I know the DUP are in favour of increased military spending and certainly against further cuts in capability. It seems likely they will want some concessions for their support. It’s unthinkable that the government will endorse some of the more extreme policies (abortion, LGBT issues) they have and more likely they will push less controversial policies like defence. I may be entirely wrong but I am a glass half full kind of chap. If I where to guess I would say we will probably get 50 eventually as it’s about he minimum number required to maintain capability. If money is tight when it comes to ordering the 12 new builds (or less if that’s what’s needed) I could see the decision being taken to buy them anyway and retire the Puma fleet without replacement. Especially as we could activate extra Chinook from the sustainment fleet to cover the transport deficit.

  8. Mike R and David S

    couple of problems here – ordering and paying are two different things, we do not have to pay up front for equipment and it can all be managed in the contract.

    secondly – I think we will get a surprise in the SDSR as I have been going through it recently and the government used an exchange rate of 1.8 USD to the £. Given we are now at 1.3 USD/£ that is a 30% drop in purchasing power or budget (depends on how you look at it and what you do).

    Given the volume of foreign purchases we are making – this is not good and likely to impact the defence budget massively.

    Whilst this isn’t connected to the 2% commitment or GDP per se, it is critical to our ability to spend and I am very concerned about this.

  9. Pacman
    I agree it is a looming problem, at least in the short term. I would hope that by the time it comes to completing orders for P-8 and F-35B the pound will have recovered (hopefully). If not it wont just be the armed forces in trouble.

  10. The collapse of the £ vs dollar is a problem. It would not be too bad if we built defence equipment we need in the UK.
    If the MOD concentrated on defence purchasing we build and pay for in sterling that would help so type 26s, type 31s, a couple more astutes.
    only 3 items at this time should we continue to purchase from US at low exchange rates.
    F35b, Poseidon MPA and mk41 vl systems for type 45, 26 and upcoming type 31s.
    everything else can wait a while until after BREXIT and sterling recovers.

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