An Antonov An-124 cargo aircraft landed recently at the Israeli Air Force (IAF) Ramon base in southern Israel. The crew, with help from base personnel, unloaded three Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters.
These left Israel in 2010 as AH-64A Peten and returned as the D model, dubbed Saraf.
This shipment of the last upgraded Apache helicopters is a crossroads for the IAF.
The production and upgrade line of the Longbow will be soon closed and the Boeing facility will focus on manufacturing the E model.
According to foreign sources, the IAF operates 18 new and rebuilt AH-64Ds.
The place of the Apache combat helicopter in the IAF’s inventory is very important. The only option now is to go for the new E model, with the more powerful engine and longer rotor blades.
The IAF will have to juggle with its budget, which is allocated almost exclusively to the purchase of 20 Lockheed Martin F-35s.
With an appetite for another 20 stealth fighters, the budget does not enable the procurement of the latest version of the Apache combat-proven helicopter.
The Israeli Defense Forces’ high command will have to address the issue of future procurement of attack helicopters soon as this platform is much needed in everyday fighting, mainly against Hamas in Gaza.