THE US ARMY and McDonnell Douglas (MDC) have followed up on their December 1995 initial AH-64 Ap-ache modification contract by signing a five-year, $1.9 billion agreement. The new deal covers the remanufacture of a total of 232 AH-64D Longbow Apache attack helicopters.

MDC has been pushing for the multi-year option, rather than five single-year acquisitions, as it enables the company to develop a more streamlined and cost-effective remanufacturing process.

MDC says that the cost savings will allow the US Army to buy additional aircraft. This, in turn, is expected to strengthen MDC's position against other companies, which might compete for later batches of the upgrade, which will eventually involve 750 AH-64 helicopters.

Work on the first AH-64A fuselage began in mid-August under the advanced-acquisition phase of the contract, which called for 18 remanufactured airframes in the first year. This rate has now been increased under the contract just signed, and the first of 24 will be delivered in March 1997. A total of 232 remanufactured helicopters will be delivered by 2002. During that same period, the US Army will deploy two additional Longbow Apache battalions.

MDC expects to bid for the second batch of some 300 helicopters around the turn of the century. The contract also includes funding for MDC to train pilots and maintenance personnel for the first two equipped units.

Source: Flight International