Boeing has taken delivery of the first ten new fuselages from long-time supplier Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) for integration into the US Army's AH-64D Apache Block III attack helicopter.
Specifically designed for the Apache helicopter, the new fuselage features a number of modifications, such as extended forward avionics bays and slots for new electronics to help accommodate Block III configuration changes.
Bill Elder, Boeing Northeast Asia Attack Helicopters business development regional manager, said that KAI continued to play a key role in the company's ongoing effort to keep Apaches optimised.
"The Apache's role has dramatically changed over the years, and it is vital for Boeing to give its customers the capabilities they need in a package that will perform for many years to come," Elder added.
Boeing Korea president Pat Gaines said that KAI started Apache fuselages production nearly a decade ago at its facility in Sacheon, South Korea.
"Today more than 1,000 AH-64D Apaches are in service, in production or under contract with 12 customers worldwide. This is just one example of the mutual benefits created by expanding the global reach of opportunities available to Korean industry," Gaines added.
Boeing was awarded a $247m contract to begin low-rate initial production (LRIP) of approximately 51 Apache Block III helicopters in October 2010, with plans to acquire a total of 690 such aircraft.
Powered by two GE T700-701D engines, the Block III aircraft includes 26 new features, such as improved digital connectivity, joint tactical radio system, new composite rotor blades, full IFR capability and a VNsight low-light television sensors (LLTV), enabling identification of ambient lighting such as streetlights, beacons and headlights.
The Apache deliveries began in November 2011 to the US Army, which is now planning to field the first Block III equipped unit in November 2012.
Image: An AH-64D Apache helicopter undergoing Block III configuration changes at Boeing's facility. Photo: Copyright © 1995 - 2012 Boeing.