Kuwait is hoping to buy Boeing/McDonnell Douglas AH-64D Longbow Apache attack helicopters in a move which could sink efforts by Sikorsky Aircraft to provide the Gulf state with an armed version of the UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter.

The US Department of Defense has formally notified Congress that Kuwait has requested the purchase of 16 AH-64D helicopters, Hellfire anti-armour missiles, Hydra-70 rockets and other related equipment worth about $800 million.

Aside from the US Army, the Netherlands and the UK are the only other Longbow Apache customers. Other nations, including several in the Middle East, operate the less-capable AH-64A Apache.

In 1994, Kuwait turned down a Pentagon offer for 16 AH-64As when Washington declined to provide Kuwait with the more-advanced Longbow Apache. The USA then changed its offer to 16 UH-60Ls armed with Hellfires.

The foreign-military sale was held up, however, because of the Pentagon's reluctance to provide Hughes' Airborne Electro-optical Special Operations Payload - the forward-looking infra-red (FLIR laser designator) used on the US Army's heavily armed MH-60 DAP (defensive armed penetration) helicopter. A compromise was reached, with the Pentagon offering a less-sophisticated sensor.

Now Kuwait has been cleared to purchase Longbow Apaches, and it would appear to have changed course in filling its attack-helicopter requirement.

Source: Flight International