Graham Warwick/WASHINGTON DC

Egypt is to be the first international operator to have its Boeing AH-64As remanufactured to AH-64D Apache Longbow configuration. The Cairo government has signed a letter of offer and acceptance to upgrade its 35 surviving A-model Apaches.

The USA has yet to approve the sale of Longbow fire-control radars for Egypt's AH-64s, but a go-ahead is expected before redelivery of the upgraded helicopters , which is due to begin in July 2003.

Israel was expected to be the first overseas operator to remanufacture its AH-64As, but decided earlier this year to buy new AH-64Ds instead. Last week, US Congress was notified of plans to sell eight AH-64Ds and 10 Longbow radars to Israel in a foreign military sales (FMS) deal worth $509 million. This is fewer than the 10 new helicopters it had planned to buy, but Israel is still expected to remanufacture at least 12 AH-64As at a later stage.

Under a separate commercial contract now being negotiated with the manufacturer, Boeing will integrate Israeli-unique systems into the country's AH-64Ds. These modifications will also be available for installation in Israel's AH-64As if they are upgraded.

Egypt's Apaches will be added to 269 US Army AH-64As to be remanufactured under the second five-year, multi-year procurement contract now in the final stages of negotiation. Together with new helicopters, this will allow Boeing to keep the AH-64 production line running at its current rate of over six aircraft a month.

Boeing says that other international operators are looking at remanufacturing their AH-64A roughly in the order they received them, with Saudi Arabia expected to be next to decide, followed by the United Arab Emirates and Greece.

• Israel has requested the sale of 14 Raytheon Beech King Air B200s, in a deal worth around $125 million. The aircraft will be equipped with tip tanks and a cargo door and used for transport and communications relay duties.

Source: Flight International