In 2017, the Government confirmed that they intended to order the last 12 of 50 AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters by the ‘end of the year’ however it’s now 2019 and this hasn’t happened yet.

The information regarding the original intention to purchase the final 12 of 50 at a later date comes from a question asked in Parliament by Mr Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when he expects the Department to complete its order for all 50 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters.”

Answered by Harriett Baldwin, then Under Secretary of State for Defence Procurement:

“The Ministry of Defence is buying 50 Apache AH-64E helicopters from the US Government under a Foreign Military Sales arrangement. The US has ordered the first 38 of the helicopters as part of its own larger purchase, under a multi-year contract with Boeing.

This ensures we can take advantage of economies of scale and secure best value for the UK taxpayer, while procuring a vital capability for the UK. We expect the remaining 12 helicopters to be incorporated within the contract by the end of the year.”

This did not happen at the end of the year and has not happened yet.

The US Department of Defense have not issued a contract modification notice or even any new information relating to UK Apache procurement.

A spokesman for the MoD insisted that the UK will still order all 50 Apaches, to be delivered by 2025, and splitting the order “will secure the best value for money for the taxpayer as we secure a vital capability for the UK.”

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.

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Daniele Mandelli

As always numbers.

38 attack helicopters for one of the world’s biggest economies. Even 50, it is shockingly few.

To think we had a mere 67 previously.

Is the AAC lacking in pilots?


I think the Royal Marines ought to have their own dedicated choppers. With blade folding!

Steve Martin

That would be a popular choice with recruits!

Geoffrey Roach

Agreed. If the “postponement” is to do with the U.S orders maybe 12 could become 24 or more, especially if Jeremy Hunt becomes P.M. His pledge to move to 2,5 % is the best news in years. I wonder if B.J. will match it. Any Conservative members out there to ask him?


Yes, I think that a core of say 12 aircraft for the Marines would be appropriate. Do the Royal Marines still have pilots? I notice that the new Junglies are in Navy markings. I remember back in the 70s having a sedate ride out to Rathlin Island (installing a temp nav station) by RN Sea Kings. Taken back 6 weeks later by a small fleet of Marine’s Wessex. Boy was that an experience….’get your [email protected] shit on board and let’s get the [email protected] out of here’!

Daniele Mandelli

Yes I think 847 NAS has Marine pilots.

It, 845 and 846 NAS are CHF anyway.


Knew you would know. A darn site quicker than Google!

Daniele Mandelli

Lol. But sometimes inaccurate like Wiki!


We used to have a marine Gazelle visit us on a regular basis when I was based on the MV Lycaon As the front pad was for Chinooks, he was come alongside and crab in between the masts . Neat bit of flying, he (and by default the RM airwing (all one of them) was was known as tiny weenie airways


Will Bojo match JH defence expenditure. Of course, just like he will spend the money saved on EU membership on the NHS… a pig’s @rse!

Nick C

I hope I am going to be able to ask Hunt to confirm what he really means on Wednesday morning. If anything interesting comes out I will post it.
The idiot Johnson seems to be offering everything to anyone who will listen, I don’t think that his promises are any more reliable than those he has made to the many unfortunate women in his life. It is also interesting that in American slang a “Johnson” refers to a certain part of the male anatomy which he appears to have used extensively over the years.

Daniele Mandelli

Totally agree.

One squadron of the AAC undertakes the role.

Ideally RM should have their own.


It would definitely make sense if the RN had most or all of the equipment it needed included in it’s force structure like the USMC. So the CHF, gunships, amphibious armour, etc. Battle tanks and fighter jets would be excessive, but helicopters and IFVs would add a lot of punch to an amphibious expeditionary group without the logistical pain of including the army and air force.


I’ve felt for a little while now that a general reorganisation towards a more USMC style of force for the entire British military may be in order. Obviously tradition and history are incredibly important for moral and building the truly brilliant group of men and women that we have, so it would have to be done very carefully. But if we want to be a truly “global”Britain then we need a proper expeditionary capability, and we can’t afford that as well as a BAR 2.0 for eastern Europe. Best value for money in my book would be to re-organise to… Read more »


I hope you’re not suggesting we go the way some nations have and role all three services into one like with what happened in Canada. By all accounts that had a pretty devastating effect on morale and was universally opposed by all three services. I do agree though, our armed forces need reorganising, and you’ve actually caught on to what needs to happen. Traditionally the British army was, by Continental standards, small but well trained, with most of our defence appropriately coming from the navy. Obviously the Cold War changed that (which was still a mistake IMO), but now we’re… Read more »


Don’t worry, that’s not exactly what I’m suggesting, no. All of our services have a history that they can be truly proud of and which goes towards the character and professionalism of the respective arms. To remove that would be a mistake. However, there does need to be a greater idea of what we want the military to do and be more ruthless about how we achieve that, perhaps? What you say is very accurate, although I’d go so far as to say WWII probably provided the basis for and enabled the massive army that we maintained throughout the cold… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Spot on!

The RN, RAF and Intelligence services should take priority.


A squadron of AH-1Zs would be a good choice.


I think the original number when they entered service was 87


No it was 67 as stated above.

Paul T

I’m pretty sure under original plans the AAC were to operate a miix of AH64A and ‘D’ totalling around 120 Airframes,but as the Cold War cooled and Defense was pruned they ended up with the 67 we know about.


A batch of recently passed out Apache pilots have been “moved” to new roles. This is due to a lack of airframes for them to fly. You should ask how much it costs to train an Apache pilot/gunner?

Nigel Collins

Governments come and go Daniele, but the one thing we can always be sure of no matter who is in office is the lack of spending on defence.


Daniele Mandelli

I agree on the general lack of interest.

The thing for me is the costs.

We have one of the world’s biggest defence budgets remember, so we do spend a considerable amount.

It buys very high tech but in small amounts, which leaves one questioning if it is being spent efficiently, when compared to others who spend less and seem to get more, numbers wise at least.

The well publicised cost of the River batch 2s an obvious example.

And the fiddling of the books only compounds matters.

Nigel Collins

Very true Daniele, Hence my question in relation to the Saab Gripen in another thread. We could get more aircraft plus a new partner for Tempest? Perfect fit for air policing duties and more, while saving airframe hours on our more expensive Typhoons. “The Gripen has a history of punching above its weight class, with the C/D frequently entered in procurement competitions against the middle-weight Typhoon, Gripen and late-life F-16. Indeed when Hush-Kit asked Jim Smith, who had significant technical roles in the development of the JSF and Eurofighter Typhoon, to rank modern fighter aircraft he put theMeteor-armed Gripen in… Read more »

Paul T

Agree with you both – the Gripen would be more than sufficient for say the Falklands detachment etc.


Yeah I do like the Gripen, would’ve been a good replacement for Jaguar and Harrier fleets. Good for expeditionary warfare, in places where there is low to medium quality enemy air defences – Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya. Low maintenance cost, high availability. Would be fine for QRA as well and maritime strike (is Typhoon certified for any AShMs? Is the Wildcat the only aircraft we have that can attack a moving surface vessel?)
A Gripen fleet could have freed up F35 and Typhoon for more high end, exotic missions.
But oh well, too late now.


Well the Swedes do have early Gripen stored in sheds. Perhaps the UK could buy 2nd hand Gripen cheap to replace even older Hawks for training & aggressor roles?

Peter Elliott

Likely to be related to the weakness of the Pound vs US Dollar.

They are probably holding off in the hope of an increase in the pound after Brexit is resolved.

One fears they may be disappointed :/


Well if the Bank of England would raise interest rates even slightly, it would help the Pound & thus bring down fuel costs which are in Dollars.


I wonder if the Royal Marines Merlins could have more atack capability added just gpmgs is kinda weak. Could they add rocket pods ect for when they raid enemy’s and the like.


The first 38 were folded into a larger purchase by the US. Its possible the plan was to do the same with the remaining 12 but the US hasn’t yet placed its second order.


Exactly what I was thinking. Unfortunately we might’ve missed the last train home as it were, the US are looking at their next gen gunship and might not bother ordering more Apaches


Maybe we are doing the same? Helicopter technology seems to be moving forward at a pace in the US. We may end up having ordered old hat tech in the Apache in a few years time.


I feel like if we were doing that, the MoD would be trumpeting about starting a next gen gunship procurement programme to drum up good publicity.

We’re definitely ordering old hat with the Apache, but it’s a solid old hat that still serves it’s purpose


This seems a good point. And the Apache itself was designed to kill Russian tanks on the North German plains, which is never going to happen now. Additionally the Apache received a lot of damage in Iraq … so well, is it really suitable against an irregular insurgent enemy? Lets not forget thousands of helicopters were shot down in Vietnam. On the other hand it strikes me it could be useful on carriers (even small ones) but then again what sort of useful range/loiter would it have? Clearly helicopters of various types are useful, indeed valuable, but how effective are… Read more »


As far as close air support goes ask any squaddie and he will tell you how much the Apache is valued. We need as many as possible, a game changer on the battlefield.

The artist formerly known as Los Pollos Chicken

Absolutely , I’ve spoken to several lads who did tours in afghan and they said when the Apache appeared the taliban disappeared . Fantastic piece of kit and arguably worlds premier tank killer.

Bill Edmead

Jeremy Hunt making noises about committment to future defence/procurement of overdue promised hardware for our overpressed Army especially is all bo***ks. Fewer frontline troops, Tanks, artillery, attack helicopters. Marines to be cut – cyber troops?! – which will inevitably mean the loss of either Albion or Bulwark. Get the picture? Russia and China tremble, not to mention threat from Iran.
Lets keep the overseas aid budget booming at £14bn and and the health tourism freebies to foreigners at hundreds of millions a year. The mind truly boggles and Corbyn isnt even at the helm. Sleep well!


Sadly the 1.8 trillion national debt has not gone away so how BoJo, Hunt & Corbyn think they can spend like a drunk on Saturday night is beyond me.

Steve R

Hmm. Seems to me Apaches on the QE or PoW could be a good asset. Range is limited but they could be used to give CAS to landing operations by Royal Marines. Also People here have commented in swarm attacks by fast attack craft from Iran, for example; I imagine a pair of Apaches would make short work of any fast boat swarm.


Yes true. How close in shore or within sensible range would a 66000tonne carrier want to be. What is US Marine procedure?


I think, given the state of the budget, most were surprised at the updated timescale in the first place so I wonder if Gavin “the leak” Williamson was playing fast and loose with the truth again like he has done so often throughout his career. Also where is the political will to use these assets- if there was one, it won’t be against a serious foe more likely against warlords sponsored by our “uae friends” trying to overturn the “government” of Libya and there is nothing past or present to suggest that will exists. Then there is the deflated value… Read more »


And now no upgrade to the Challenger 2’s. Shock, horror gasp. The slowest MBT around. No new sighting systems, nothing. Just mothballing. In fact the biggest ‘mothballed’ army in the world. That’s one growth area to be proud of!

The artist formerly known as Los Pollos Chicken

When was this announced ? Not read anything relating to the planned upgrade of challenger 2 being cancelled? I thought the process for deciding on what and how many was still being conducted ?

The artist formerly known as Los Pollos Chicken

Ah Ukdefencejournal has answered directly in its other post- The challengers are getting upgraded so no need to get back to me man


Flight global reports that the USA is about to give Boeing a multi year deal up to 2026 to manufacture/remanufacture up to 600 Apache E. Surely this is the chance for the UK to get its final 12 at a good price.


So, the order for 12 is still missing!

Is this missing inaction rather than missing in action?