Greece urged to commit to Apache upgrade, as air force eyes new utility model

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Greece is being encouraged to within the next few months commit to a programme to modernise its 20 Boeing AH-64A Apache attack helicopters to the D-model configuration, with time running out before the US Army will stop supporting the legacy standard.

Athens urgently needs to commit limited funds to acquire long-lead items for the Block II upgrade, says Boeing, which cautions that 2010 "would be too late" for the nation to pursue the enhancements.

Approval for the remanufacturing work would ensure commonality with the US Army (AH-64D pictured below) and other international users, and "clear the way for the Block III configuration [upgrade] in the future", says Joe McAndrew, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems' vice-president business development for Europe, Israel and the Americas.

 
© Boeing

The Greek army is awaiting the availability of 12 new AH-64D Apache Longbows that have been shipped to the country, but are the subject of an ongoing procedural problem. Boeing declines to provide further details.

Limited funds have meanwhile been released for the Greek army to modernise its CH-47D Chinook transport helicopters towards the F-model standard, with avionics enhancements and a Honeywell engine upgrade among its top priorities. An alternative would be for Athens to pursue a follow-on order for new-build Chinooks to be delivered by 2014, says McAndrew.

Separately, the Greek air force has shown early interest in acquiring a new fleet of utility helicopters to replace its Bell UH-1s and Eurocopter AS332/532 transports. Few details are known about the long-term requirement, but it is expected to include some aircraft capable of supporting combat search and rescue duties.

Possible candidates for the emerging requirement could include the AgustaWestland AW101, NH Industries NH90 and Sikorsky's H-92. Boeing has already ruled out an offer based on the Chinook, however.

Sikorsky sent its H-92 demonstrator to participate in the 7-11 October Defendory exhibition in Athens, conducting flight demonstrations for Greek air force search and rescue personnel before the event. The aircraft, which has completed a tour of nine European nations, will remain in Greece for several weeks before being flown to Abu Dhabi next month for demonstrations in several Gulf states.