The Israeli air force has abandoned a plan to re-manufacture 12 Boeing AH-64AApache attack helicopters to AH-64D Apache Longbow standard, in favour of buying new-build machines. The decision is the latest twist in Israel's drawn-out plans to boost its attack helicopter fleet.

A $560 million offer from Boeing last year for new-build AH-64Ds was considered too expensive, resulting in Israel opening talks with Bell on a AH-1Z purchase. This was followed in February with the Israeli air force signing a letter of offer and acceptance for 12 AH-64As to be remanufactured to Longbow-standard for re-delivery in 2003 (Flight International, 7-13 March).

Recently-appointed Israeli air force commander Maj Gen Dan Halutz has reviewed the decision and cancelled the planned upgrade in favour of buying up to 10 new-build AH-64Ds.

Israeli sources saythe cost of new-build helicopters has been reduced and Halutz is intent on building up Israel's Apache fleet.

The Apaches have been given a security role following the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Lebanon earlier this year.

Source: Flight International