Boeing has been awarded a contract for the production and delivery of Block III Apache AH-64D Longbow attack helicopters in support of the US foreign military sales (FMS) programme.
The $97.3m firm-fixed-price contract was awarded by the US Army Contracting Command (ACC) and provides a modification for an existing contract to purchase the helicopters for the FMS customers, according to the US Department of Defense (DoD).
The DoD did not provide any further information on its potential customers, except that one bid was solicited, while another was received, as reported by Military Aerospace.
An updated version of the Apache combat helicopter, the Boeing AH-64D Longbow Block III is a twin-engine attack helicopter featuring improved avionics, increased computer-networking capability and manoeuvrability.
Avionics upgrades include enhanced digital connectivity, VNsight low-light television sensors (LLTV), the joint tactical radio system, and the Lockheed Martin-Northrop Grumman unmanned aerial systems tactical common data link assembly (UTA).
The UTA is a two-way, high-bandwidth data link helping Apache air crews control the sensor and flight path of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at longer ranges.
Powered by two T700-GE-701D engines, the helicopter is armed with a 30mm chain gun, AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods; it can also be integrated with a WeaponWatch ground-fire acquisition system to automatically locate and engage ground based targets.
Work under the contract will be carried out at the company's facility in Mesa, Arizona, US and is scheduled to be complete before the end of 2017.
Taiwan had signed a contract, under a US FMS programme, for the purchase of 30 AH-64D Apache Block III in June 2011, which is expected to be delivered between 2012 and 2013.
Besides the US, the helicopters are also in service with several nations worldwide including the UK, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Greece, Kuwait, Egypt and UAE.
Image: A US Army's AH-64D Apache helicopter conducting a reconnaissance mission in Baghdad, Iraq. Photo: courtesy of Army.mil.