Military

Boeing Retrofitting Apaches For Bolt-Corrosion Issue

By Amy Kluber | October 10, 2018
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U.S. Army AH-64E Apache pilots assigned to Task Force Griffin, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, 7th Infantry Division land for fuel in Kunduz, Afghanistan, May 31, 2017. The Griffins are working hard to support U.S. Forces Afghanistan as part of Operation Freedom's Sentinel and Resolute Support Mission.

U.S. Army Boeing AH-64E Apache. File photo

Boeing is nearing completion of retrofits to AH-64 Apache helicopters that address what the U.S. Army has observed to be an issue with a damaged main rotorhead bolt due to corrosion.

The Army has been receiving retrofits of its AH-65E Apaches with fail-safe collars, which prevent helicopter blades from detaching from the main rotor in the event of a problem so that the helicopter can safely land, Boeing executives told reporters Oct. 9 at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. The collar fits over legacy nuts and are meant to be a temporary solution while the helicopters await retrofit of a strap pack.

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The collars have been delivered to all U.S.-based Apaches and to about half of Boeing’s international customers, Boeing said. The international deliveries should be completed within the next two months, said Kathleen Jolivette, director of U.S. Army Services for Boeing Global Services.

Jolivette said about 25 percent of the Army’s Apaches have been retrofitted. That process could be completed by 2020, said Boeing Vice President of Attack Helicopter Programs Steve Wade. Jolivette added Boeing is awaiting the Army’s green-light to resume retrofits. The strap pack has yet to be retrofitted to any of its international customers.

The AH-64E has been involved in at least seven of the 133 aviation mishaps that have occurred since 2013.

“It’s been a challenging year,” said Wade, who assumed his current post in July 2017. “But we’re in a really good place now.”

Wade said the company is on pace to catching up to its delivery estimates by next year. In fiscal year 2018's fourth quarter, it plans to deliver 22 Apaches to the U.S. Army, originally estimated to be 48, Wade said.

The U.S. Army operates 749 -D and -E model Apaches. There are more than 1,170 in service in 115 countries. It is currently undergoing a version six (“V6”) update, with the final outbrief planned for June 2019 and production to begin mid-2020.

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