WESTLAND AND McDonnell Douglas Helicopter System (MDHS) are exploring the possibility of establishing an AH-64 support centre in Europe in the wake of the Netherlands decision to procure the Apache.

The UK helicopter builder says that it is in informal discussions with MDHS for the UK attack-helicopter programme over the potential for setting up a support centre, probably in the UK.

Alongside AH-64s soon to be acquired by the Netherlands, the centre could also cater for US Army AH-64s based in Europe, and Greek AH-64As.

The Dutch decision to purchase the AH-64D has provoked a fierce outburst from Eurocopter chairman Francois Bigay.

A letter sent by Bigay and co-chairman Siegfried Sobotta to the Parliamentary defence committee accuses the air force of ignoring "even at the most obvious level", the Tiger's newer technology, and of forwarding "untrue" figures to the Parliament concerning life-cycle costs and endurance.

The Dutch parliament is due to meet to discuss the decision. According to a Netherlands defence ministry source, it could make things "very difficult" for an Apache purchase.

Source: Flight International