The U.K. Defense Ministry is prepared to award a $3 billion contract for additional Apaches to Boeing rather than the Leonardo (Finmeccanica) Westland unit, according to a London press report.
The Telegraph newspaper said Boeing prevailed in bidding to provide 50 more attack helicopters for the British Army by "offering the new helicopters at a far lower price by tacking them on the end of a much larger Apache order for the US military." It said the $3 billion contract value includes lifetime support for the aircraft.
The newspaper quoted a defense ministry official as saying, "The Apache program is currently in its assessment phase and expects to make a decision by summer 2016." The Telegraph said a formal announcement of Boeing's selection could come in early July at the Royal International Air Tattoo or later that month at the Farnborough Air Show.
In April, Boeing (which builds Apaches at its Mesa, Arizona, facility) won new work from the U.S. Army to remanufacture 117 Apaches to the latest, AH-64E configuration. Boeing valued that additional work (including logistical support, spares and flight simulators) at $1.5 billion.
The Westland unit in Yeovil, in southwest England, has provided the British Army's 67 Apache AH1s since 2001. It built them under license from Boeing and made modifications to the U.K. configuration, including installation of Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM332 engines and avionics and weapons systems changes. The Telegraph put the price of Westland-produced Apaches at $64 million.
The rotorcraft work at Yeovil is part of a U.K. strategy to sustain critical capabilities for its national industrial base. That facility serves as transmission and rotor blade "centers of excellence" for Leonardo and performs final assembly of the Super Lynx 300, AW101, AW159 and AW189.
Yeovil also provides integrated operational support for the U.K. defense ministry's Sea King, Merlin, Apache and Wildcat helicopters, supports U.K. and export military customers around the world and runs a round-the-clock customer support fleet operations center. In addition, Yeovil oversees the training academy and operational flying training center at Newquay Cornwall Airport.
Photo courtesy of Ronnie Macdonald / CC BY 2.0