U.K. announces $2.3 billion Apache helicopter deal

LONDON, The U.K. Ministry of Defense on Monday announced a $2.3 billion deal to buy 50 AH-64E Apache helicopters from Boeing for the army.

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The new Apaches, already in service with the U.S. Army, are being purchased through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program, the MOD said in a statement.

The helicopter increases the force’s weapons capacity while being more fuel efficient, allowing for longer operations in demanding conditions.

The first U.K. helicopters are due off the U.S. production line in early 2020, and will enter service in 2022.

While the Apaches will be built in the United States, the MOD said subcontracts representing about 5 percent of the Apache supply chain are being awarded to several U.K. companies.

Support and training arrangements are being worked out but are expected to produce about 350 jobs, comparable to those required to support the existing Apache fleet, the MOD said.

Buying the AH-64E off the shelf allows the ministry to take advantage of the U.S. government’s larger production program, the MOD said, while some systems in the current Apache fleet will be reused and incorporated into the new helicopters when possible.

The deal with the United States includes an initial support contract for maintenance, spare parts and training simulators.

The new Apache’s improved computing capacity and updated sensors mean the new fleet can handle future upgrades, which the MOD said will ensure it remains at the cutting edge of technology.

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