For the last couple of years, the UK Defence Journal had been trying to track down the ‘missing 12’ of 50 aircraft. They have now been ordered.
The confirmation comes after a support contract for a “fleet of 50” AH-64E Apache aircraft was awarded to Boeing.
According to the contract notice:
“The Boeing Co., Mesa, Arizona, was awarded a $191,858,915 cost-no-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price contract for post-production support services and warehouse management services for the United Kingdom AH-64E Apache helicopter fleet of 50 aircraft and three Longbow crew trainers. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work will be performed in Mesa, Arizona, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2024. Fiscal 2020 Foreign Military Sales (United Kingdom) funds in the amount of $191,858,915 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-20-C-0014).”
For the last couple of years, we’ve been tracking the progress of the ‘missing 12’ Apache helicopters. In August 2019, Former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, Stuart Andrew, said in response to this question from Andrew Rosindell, the Member of Parliament for Romford:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when her Department plans to complete its order for all 50 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters.”
Stuart Andrew responded:
“The order for all 50 Apache AH-64E attack helicopters was placed with the US Government in June 2016 and deliveries are planned to be complete by early 2024. The US Government manages the timing of subcontracts to support the required aircraft delivery schedule.”
No such order was placed, a commitment to 50 was made but only 38 were actually ordered at the time.
So, I asked the Ministry of Defence the following:
I would like to know when all 50 Apache AH-64E Guardian helicopters were ordered and if not all 50 have yet been ordered, when the final order will be made and for how many aircraft?”
The response to my Freedom of Information request is as follows:
“Under a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) case signed in June 2016, the UK MOD placed an order with the United States Government (USG) for 50 AH-64E Apache helicopters. Currently, the USG has ordered 38 aircraft to meet the UK requirement and will order the remaining 12 at the optimum time to meet our required delivery schedule. Under Section 16 of Act (Advice and Assistance), it may be helpful to know that, under the FMS process, the USG places orders for aircraft from the manufacturer (Boeing) in time to meet the MOD’s required delivery schedule. The USG will use their buying power, leveraging the US Army’s requirements and that of other international customers, to negotiate the best possible price and therefore achieve best value for money. The required delivery schedule remains unchanged from that agreed in June 2016.”
According to a release from Boeing at the time:
“Boeing and the U.S. Army have finalized orders from three nations to provide their armed forces with the new, more capable AH-64E Apache model. The contracts are for the remanufacture of 47 existing AH-64D Apaches. The total combined value of the orders is more than $560 million.”
The Ministry of Defence did not comment on whether this specific order included the last 12 for the UK but after speaking to them, we’ve been told that all 50 are under now contract which makes the above the likely order as no other Apache related procurement contracts have been published recently.
While the UK earlier said it had committed to ordering all 50, it was late in doing so. In July 2017, Harriett Baldwin, then Under Secretary of State for Defence Procurement said:
“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.“
It’s now 2020 and the order has been placed.