Boeing and Alsalam Aircraft are eyeing an initiative under which the Saudi Arabian company would offer depot-level maintenance for AH-64A/D Apache attack helicopters in service with the nation's land forces and also used by other regional operators, including Egypt, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

If approved, the initiative would lead to the establishment of a new regional centre of excellence to work on the Apache, focusing particularly on elements such as rotor blades and gearboxes. Talks are also continuing with Boeing, which owns a significant stake in Alsalam.

"We are in discussions in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries on how we can help each other to support these aircraft," says Alsalam chief executive Mohammed Fallatah.

While noting that some regulatory issues must be overcome, such as with regard to the security of the Longbow fire control radars which equip Egyptian and Kuwaiti AH-64Ds, Fallatah says: "We see great benefit in some core Middle Eastern opportunities. That's something we have to be responsive to."

Riyadh-headquartered Alsalam has provided technical support for Saudi Arabia's 12 AH-64As since 1999 under a foreign military sales agreement, and also works on the nation's Bell 212/412 utilities, Bell 406 scouts and Sikorksy UH-60 Black Hawks.