The new fleet of Apaches is much more capable than their predecessors. Led by Army Air Force pilots from the Joint Helicopter Command, they will continue to give the British Army an edge over any future adversaries. The AH-64E can also carry more weapons with increased fuel efficiency, allowing it to operate in more demanding conditions for longer.
The new Apache AH-64E helicopters, built by Boeing and already in service with the US Army, are being purchased via a Foreign Military Sale with the US Government.
Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said:
This deal will give the British Army a premium helicopter of good value for money for UK taxpayers.
It’s part of our plan for more ships, more planes, more troops available on standby, better Special Forces equipment, and more spending online. That plan, backed by an increased defense budget, will enable us to deal with the growing threats to our country.
Although built in the US, the new Apache jets will also bring benefits to the UK, where companies in Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Bedfordshire, Cheshire and JDC have been awarded subcontracts from Boeing that collectively represent about 5% of the global Apache supply chain.
Support and training arrangements for the new Apache AH-64E helicopters present another opportunity for UK suppliers. The proposed arrangements for these services will be completed over the next year, with contracts placed at the end of the contract. These future arrangements are expected to support approximately 350 jobs, a number similar to that required to support the existing Apache fleet.
Leonardo Helicopters (formerly AgustaWestland) will continue to lead arrangements to support our current Apache helicopters until their retirement in 2023/24.
Defense Secretary Michael Fallon continued:
In the long run, I want this new Apache to be maintained in the UK, and the UK companies doing most of the work. This includes Leonardo Helicopters, which has developed significant knowledge and experience in supporting our existing Apache fleet over the past decade and will continue to support the helicopters until their final retirement in approximately eight years.
The purchase of the AH-64E “turnkey” allows the Department of Defense to benefit from the US Government’s larger production program in Mesa, Arizona, with the UK benefiting from economies of scale. To further ensure value for money, systems from the existing Apache fleet, such as the updated Target Acquisition and Mapping System and Longbow Fire Control Radar, will be reused and integrated into new helicopters where possible.
Tony Douglas, CEO of the Defense and Defense Equipment Organization at the Department of Defense, said:
This is a momentous day for the British Armed Forces, as the latest generation of helicopters are set to provide the forces with the ability to conquer the world for decades to come.
The MoD agreement with the US brings British benefits as well; A group of British companies are benefiting from work on the global Apache program, and support and training arrangements for the new attack helicopters present other exciting opportunities for the UK industry.
Chief of the General Staff Sir Nick Carter said:
The new Apache Fleet will provide the British Army with an extremely robust combat component of the Force of the Future 2025. The Apache has already proven its value in operations in Libya and Afghanistan, supporting British and coalition forces, and this new model will give our pilots a faster, more responsive and more capable attack helicopter. These improvements will give us an operational edge as we work to protect the UK and our interests at home and abroad.”
The deal with the US government includes an initial support contract for the maintenance of the new helicopters, along with spare parts and training simulators for British pilots. The new helicopter’s improved computing capacity and updated sensors mean the new fleet will also be receptive to future upgrades, ensuring that it remains at the cutting edge of technology.
The first British helicopters are scheduled to roll off the US production line in early 2020 and will start service with the British Army in 2022.