Air force nears configuration decision as Apache scores direct hits in tests near Boeing site in Arizona
The Israeli air force is close to finalising the configuration of its future AH-64DApache Longbow attack helicopters, following the recent completion of flight tests using a prototype aircraft near Boeing's Yuma site in Arizona.
The AH-64Ds will be delivered equipped with electronic warfare, communications and navigation equipment supplied by Israeli industry and immediately placed into operational use, says the air force. They are also expected to use Israeli-developed weapons. The Apache fired both radar- and laser-guided missiles during the trials, scoring direct hits on all its intended targets. According to the air force, the tests will assist in the process of freezing the aircraft's configuration before its first example moves to Boeing's assembly line.
The air force is to receive 13 AH-64Ds from 2005 under its current contract, including nine new-build aircraft. The remaining four will be inventory AH-64As remanufactured to the enhanced standard, the first of which have already been shipped to the USA.
Israel is also considering an offer from Boeing to acquire additional Apache Longbows to bolster its first squadron to be equipped with the aircraft. The extra platforms would also form the basis of a planned second squadron of AH-64Ds and augment the air force's remaining inventory of around 35 AH-64As.
ARIE EGOZI / TEL AVIV
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CRAIG HOYLE IN LONDON
Source: Flight International