Tokyo's planned final purchase of one Fuji Heavy Industries/Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter in fiscal year 2008 will halt orders of the type for Japan's army after just 13 airframes way short of the 60 originally sought to replace the service's current Fuji Heavy Industries/Bell AH-1S fleet.

The decision to stop Apache orders has been taken due to the type's high unit cost, and as a result of Japan's annual procurement model, under which the nation would take around 20 more years to complete its planned purchase. Fuji, which will this year complete a new licence production facility for the AH-64D, will receive compensation from the Japanese defence ministry following the decision.

With only enough aircraft being acquired to equip one Apache squadron, the army will extend AH-1S operations until a new replacement plan is been determined through a future White Paper. Fuji delivered Japan's first AH-64D in March 2006, and the type participated in an army firepower demonstration in late August.

Source: Flight International