The US State Department has announced its approval of a possible sale of AH-64E Apache helicopters, also known as Guardian, and associated equipment to Australia.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has notified Congress about the foreign military sale, estimated to cost $3.5bn.

The proposed sale package includes 29 AH-64Es, 64 T700-GE 701D engines, 29 AN/ASQ-170 modernised target acquisition and designation sight/AN/AAR-11 modernised pilot night vision sensors, 16 AN/APG-78 FCR with radar electronic units and 35 AAR-57 common missile warning systems.

Australia has also requested M261 rocket launchers, M299 missile launchers, high explosive warhead for airborne 2.75 rockets, MK66-4 2.75in rocket warhead M274 motor, MK66-4 2.75in rocket motor, MUMT-X video receivers, MUMT-X air-air-ground kits, training devices, communication systems, helmets, simulators, generators, transportation and organisation equipment.

Boeing and Lockheed Martin are the principal contractors of the sale.

In January this year, Australia selected Boeing Apache Guardian as the army’s new Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) capability. It will replace Tiger ARH from 2025.

The AH-64E Apache helicopters will enhance Australia’s armed reconnaissance force and deter existing and future adversaries that threaten national interests.

The capability will also allow interoperability with US forces and other allies.

Apaches are produced at Boeing’s Mesa facility in Arizona, US.

The first Apache, an AH-64A, was delivered to the US Army in January 1984. The company began deliveries of the advanced version ‘E’ model in October 2011.

In March 2017, Boeing received a $3.4bn multi-year contract to provide AH-64E Apaches to the US Army and Saudi Arabia.