The US Department of Defense (DoD) is preparing to release the Northrop Grumman/Lockheed Martin Longbow millimetre-wave radar to Singapore, clearing the way for the first sale of the Boeing AH-64D Longbow Apache attack helicopter to a South-East Asian nation.

It is understood from US defence sources that a supplementary letter of offer and acceptance (LoA) covering the Longbow system and other items is now being drafted. The DoD is expected to submit the new offer to the US Congress for approval after it reconvenes on 6 January.

Singapore's insistence on including the targeting radar in any AH-64D purchase initially met with some resistance from the DoD, which had previously not released the system for export other than to "NATO plus" nations. (Flight International, 28 October-3 November, 1998, P22). It is now prepared to offer the system to Singapore, subject to final Congressional approval.

The move follows the completion by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) of its evaluation of the AH-64D and rival multirole HCP version of the Eurocopter Tiger. It is in the final stages of completing its report, with the AH-64D widely tipped as its preference. Singapore has indicated that a final selection is expected to be made by the end of March.

An initial Singapore LoA for eight basic AH-64D helicopters, and 12 options without the radar, was approved by Congress in mid-1998. The RSAF intends to procure the airframes through US Foreign Military Sales.

Source: Flight International