Boeing has now officially taken the AH-64D out of production as of September, being replaced by the AH-64E, initially delivered as the AH-64D Lot III. The majority of the D Model Apaches were rebuilt from the AH-64A, including 713 AH-64Ds delivered to the U.S. Army. The U.S. Army also received 68 new builds as replacement aircraft.
First delivery of the more advanced AH-64E was made in October 2011, with the 1/229th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion of the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., becoming the first unit equipped with 24 aircraft.
Boeing has handed over an additional 19 AH-64Es to the 1st Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment at Carson, Colo. The 43 aircraft are out a total of 51 planned in the low rate initial production (LRIP), according to Col. Jeffrey Hager, AH-64E project manager. The LRIP is nearly over, with Boeing immediately beginning full rate production.
Those 43 were upgraded from AH-64Ds, with the 44th aircraft in the initial batch to be the first new fuselage ship.
Boeing AH-64D Apaches taking off. Photo courtesy of Boeing
The modernization of the AH-64 is continuing with two more capability upgrades planned – Lots VI and IV, he said. Lot VI will begin in 2015.
AH-64Ds are still being delivered. A total of 90 AH-64s will be delivered through this year, of which 39 are D models and 51 Echo models.
International customers will receive 30 through the U.S. foreign military sales (FMS) program, with the international orders being a mixture of AH-64Ds and AH-64Es. Both Boeing and the U.S. Army are anticipating that some of the international customers ordering the AH-64D will give serious consideration to upgrading to the E model for the added capabilities, as well as compatibility with allied forces that are fielding the AH-64E.
Taiwan is the first international customer for the Echo model with an order for 30 aircraft. The first six were planned for deliver in October, with all 30 delivered by next July.
Indonesia has signed a letter of acceptance for eight AH-64Es for approximately $500 million, with a total package cost of $1.42 billion.
India is considering an order for 22 E model Apaches with an additional order possible, although the specific number has not been released. The India agreement is a direct commercial sale (DCS) and FMS hybrid.
Both Qatar and Korea have notified the U.S. government that they are interested in purchasing the AH-64E through FMS, with Qatar seeking 24 aircraft with a total package worth $3 billion, and Korea asking for 36 E models with a package value of $3.6 billion.
The total packages for the FMS includes weapon systems, mission equipment packages, training and ongoing support. Hager noted that the Army has been able to reduce the cost of support contracts by 24 percent.
Egypt had ordered 12 AH-64D Apaches, but those aircraft are currently in storage awaiting word for delivery.
Hager noted that to date, the AH-64 fleet has accumulated 3.7 million flight hours, of which 5,810 hours were with the Echo model. The program is scheduled to run through 2026.
Related: Airframe News