Kuwait is reviving long-standing plans to order 16 Boeing AH-64D Apache helicopters complete with Lockheed Martin Longbow fire-control radars, while neighbouring Saudi Arabia is looking at price and availability data with a view to procuring an additional 24 of the attack machines.
According to Department of Defense sources, a letter of request from Kuwait is expected shortly, following changes at the local ministry of defence. This will start a period of informal and formal notification to the US Congress of the proposed $640 million foreign military sale, which will include Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles. It is hoped to issue Kuwait a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) early next year.
Boeing (and before that McDonnell Douglas) has been trying to sell the Apache to Kuwait since 1993 without success until now. A letter of acceptance was issued once before in 1998. The proposed deal has been frustrated by a series of issues, including the US government's refusal to sell Kuwait the Longbow millimetre-wave radar. Kuwait was then considering buying an armed version of the Sikorsky UH-60L until Washington blocked the sale of sensitive AAQ-16 forward looking infrared and laser designation technology.
More recently, Bell has been trying to interest Kuwait in the improved four-blade AH-1Z Super Cobra, which is in development for the US Marine Corps.
Other pending sales to Kuwait include four Lockheed Martin C-130J transports and two KC-130J tankers, as well as airborne early warning and control systems, probably Boeing's 737-based Airborne Early Warning system. (Flight International 13-19 November)
Saudi Arabia is considering acquiring up to 24 Apache Longbows to complement its fleet of 12 AH-64As. In the longer term, the United Arab Emirates is expected to sign an LOA to remanufacture its 30 machines to AH-64D standard, while Egypt has signed a $242 million contract to similarly upgrade its 35 AH-64Ds by 2006.
The latter, however, will not have been cleared to receive the Longbow radar, owing to the sensitivities of neighbouring Israel.
Source: Flight International