South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Procurement Administration (DAPA) has reportedly announced the rollout of Boeing’s AH-64 Apache attack helicopters for the Republic of Korea (ROK) Army.
Yonhap News reported the helicopters were ‘unveiled months before the start of deliveries’ by Boeing in Mesa, Arizona, US.
DAPA officials said that the US Army will conduct test flights before delivering the helicopters to South Korea in early 2016.
Speaking to Yonhap, DAPA aviation business team head Baek Yoon-hyeong said: "The Apache Guardian will greatly contribute to the strengthening of our military’s combat capability by replacing aging helicopters currently in operation."
The ROK Army has been operating an ageing fleet of Bell AH-1S Cobra helicopters for attack missions.
In April 2013, Boeing was awarded an estimated KRW1.8tn ($1.6bn) foreign military sales (FMS) contract to supply the army with AH-64E Apache helicopters.
Awarded by DAPA, the contract covered the delivery of 36 helicopters, along with training and logistical support to enhance the army’s aerial firepower, from 2016.
Known as Guardian, the AH-64E is a heavily armed helicopter. It features powerful, fuel-efficient T700-GE-701D engines, enhanced rotor blade technology and electronics, as well as improved aircraft handling, performance and agility at higher altitudes.
Designed to replace the army’s existing AH-64D Longbow fleet, the helicopter also features a joint tactical radio system, as well as electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) sensors to improve pilots’ situational awareness, and an oversea capacity, enabling for potential strikes on smaller ships.
Image: The Republic of Korea Army will receive 36 AH-64E Apache helicopters by 2018. Photo: courtesy of the US Army.