Boeing has been awarded a US$1.946bn (A$2.90bn) contract for the procurement of up to 184 Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters, including 29 machines for the Australian Army.
The Apache was confirmed as the preferred solution for Project LAND 4503 to replace the Airbus Tiger ARH in service, ahead of the Bell AH-1Z Viper. The sale was approved by the US State Department in June 2021, and the former LNP-led government confirmed the sale had been “finalised” in May 2022.
Of the 184 machines that went under contract, the US Army will take up to 130 which will be remanufactured AH-64D models, with the remaining 54 split between Australia and Egypt. It is understood Australia’s 29 Apaches will be new-build machines.
“We are enhancing the US Army’s attack fleet, while supporting additional partner nations and welcoming our newest Apache customer, the Australian Army,” Boeing’s vice president of Attack Helicopter Programs, Christina Upah said in a 17 March statement. “This contract highlights the need for Apaches worldwide.”
The announcement comes just two weeks after a US Army AH-64E was displayed along with a UH-60M Black Hawk at the Australian International Airshow at Avalon. The Apache also made a visit to Sydney where it landed aboard the Royal Australian Navy’s LHD HMAS Canberra while it was moored alongside at Garden Island.
“The activity has given our joint force the opportunity to learn about how to operate the Apache in a barracks environment as well as an at-sea environment,” MAJ Daniel Tidd from Army Aviation’s Command Battlefield Aviation Program said in a 1 March release. “This opportunity is the result of extensive bilateral engagement and joint force planning over many months.”
HMAS Canberra Commander Air, Commander Roy Watson added, “Seeing the aircraft land has been the result of months of work from many, many different agencies. For myself, it comes with great personal satisfaction to see it actually come to fruition.”
The first Apaches are due to be delivered in 2025.