A $1.5 billion deal with Boeing for 117 remanufactured AH-64 Apache gunships tops the list of big-ticket helicopter contracts awarded by the US government in the past fortnight. Other deals include Boeing CH-47Fs for the Netherlands and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks for Mexico.
The US Army announced a $923 million transaction with Boeing on 7 April as part of its Lot 5 and 6 remanufacturing programme, and the manufacturer clarified last week that the total contract value is $1.5 billion and includes more Longbow flight simulators, logistical support and spare parts.
The army is acquiring a mix of 690 new-build Apaches and remanufactured D-models updated to the E-model “Guardian” configuration, of which 290 have now been ordered through Boeing’s plant in Mesa, Arizona. The AH-64E is said to be more powerful, reliable and versatile than its “Longbow” predecessor with an improved drive system, composite main rotor blades and 2,000shp-class General Electric T700-701D engines. The missile and rocket-carrying gunship is also interoperable with the US Army MQ-1C Grey Eagle and RQ-7B Shadow unmanned aerial systems.
“The AH-64E Apache continues to meet the requirements of aviators, battlefield commanders and soldiers deployed on missions worldwide,” says US Army Apache project manager Col Jeff Hager in a statement.
Boeing's success continued on 18 April the Pentagon announcing a $308 million contract for 12 tandem-rotor CH-47F Chinooks for the Royal Netherlands Air Force. Holland was approved in March 2015 to receive up to 17 Honeywell T55-714A-powered examples through the US government's foreign military sales (FMS) process as transitions away from the D-model. The Dutch forces have already procured six F-models, meaning this latest contract brings the fleet count to 18.
The contract announcement notes an April 2016 completion date, but Boeing confirms that none of the 12 have been delivered yet.
In another win for American military rotorcraft manufacturers, Mexico has purchased seven “uniquely configured” UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from Lockheed Martin's Sikorsky business through a $54 million FMS transaction with the US government. Delivered from West Palm Beach in Florida, the estimated completion date for the Black Hawk order is February 2019.