Boeing Remanufactures AH-64A Apaches to AH-64D Block II
With the collapse of the RAH-66 Comanche program, and rededication of its funding into the ARH-70 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH), the UH-145 Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), and other programs, the AH-64 Apache will remain the primary attack helicopter flown by the US and its allies over the coming decades. Unsurprisingly, some degree of remanufacturing and conversions to AH-64D status are either completed or ongoing for almost all AH-64A Apache owners.
In January 2007, Boeing announced a $1.149 billion extended Block II contract for the remanufacture of 96 US. Army AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters, as well as 30 AH-64Ds for the United Arab Emirates. That number has continued to grow, until it encompassed all of the US Army’s remaining AH-64A Apache attack helicopters.
AH-64D Block II, “Extended Block II,” and “EBII+”
When the US Army bought the AH-64D Apache Longbow, with the characteristic mast-mounted radars to control the Hellfire II Longbow dual-guidance laser/millimeter wave missiles, it bought them as remanufactures from its existing AH-64A fleets. By 2006, a total of 501 helicopters had been delivered in AH-64D Block I and the more advanced AH-64D Block II variants. At that point, production was supposed to stop, and Block III conversions would begin.
Unfortunately, late technologies like JTRS radios, and other impediments, have given the Block III program a late start. In order to avoid a production line shutdown, which would require a very expensive restart, the US military decided to go on buying more AH-64D Block IIs until Block III was ready. Additional helicopters bought under that approach are “Extended Block IIs” – extended in their production line, not their technology. Further orders and options that stretch Block II production are “Extended Block II Plus,” or AH-64D EBII+.
Contracts & Key Events
Unless otherwise noted, all contracts are issued to Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Co. in Mesa, AZ, and managed by U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL.
Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/13. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-06-C-0093).
Jan 11/12: Defense Tech reports that:
“The service’s last 16 AH-64A-model Apaches, in service since 1984, will leave their National Guard units in May and fly to a Boeing facility where they will be upgraded to AH-64D Block II status, Col. Shane Openshaw, the Army’s AH-64 program manager, told a group of reporters today at a Boeing-sponsored lunch.”
July 5/11: A $75.2 million firm-fixed-price contract, buying another 23 remanufactured AH-64D EBII+ helicopters for the US Army National Guard as their 4th order to date. They’re also ordering spares and one Longbow Crew Trainer. Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ, with an estimated completion date of Sept 30/13. One bid was solicited, with one bid received (W58RGZ-06-C-0093).
Extended conversations with Boeing reveal that this contract is not finalized, which means there will be additional funding later for this purchase. These will be remanufactured AH-64As, and Boeing has confirmed that this order was anticipated in the firm’s briefing before the 2011 Paris Air Show. That leaves Boeing’s total Extended Block II orders at 278 so far: 117 for the Army, 95 for the National Guard, and 66 War Replacement helicopters built to this standard. In 2013, the Block II production line is expected to switch to AH-64D Block IIIs, giving Boeing 2 Block III production lines.
Adding up all of the AH-64D Block I-II helicopters after this order makes 779 built or remanufactured (284 B1 + 217 B2 + 278 EB2). Since the 66 war replacement helicopters were effectively produced twice, that’s 713 machines that could be in service. 713 minus 634 planned Block III remanufactures (out of 690 total) = 79 AH-64D Block IIs that don’t become Block IIIs for whatever reason: losses over the years that aren’t replaced, they’re left in place as Block IIs, etc.
Jan 14/11: A $190.2 million firm-fixed-price contract to remanufacture 72 AH-64A helicopters into AH-64D Apache Longbow Block IIs, along with 1 Longbow Crew Trainer.
Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ, with an estimated completion date of March 31/14. One bid was solicited with one bid received (W58RGZ-06-C-0093).
April 9/10: A $72.1 million firm-fixed-price contract to remanufacture 24 AH-64A model helicopters into AH-64Ds for the US Army National Guard. The contract also provides for “item unique identification marketing Phase II recurring requirement for NG3A”, and finalization of the “not-to-exceed contract for the image generator.” Work is to be performed in Mesa, AZ, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/13. One bid was solicited with one bid received (W58RGZ-06-C-0093).
Wartime needs are pushing the US Army to accelerate National Guard modernization by cascading Longbow Block I aircraft directly to United States Army Reserve and Army National Guard Apache battalions, and modernizing AH-64As for direct delivery. Pentagon budget documents indicate a planned total of 47 AH-64D Extended Block II+ in FY 2010.
Feb 5/10: A $99.3 million firm-fixed-price contract, exercising the option for 13 more Block II helicopters in Production Lot 14. Work is to be performed in Mesa, AZ, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/13. The U.S. Army Contracting Command’s Aviation and Missile Command Contracting Center in Redstone Arsenal, L issued the contract (W58RGZ-06-C-0093).
This order, originally expected by the end of 2009, brings the Extended Block II program’s total to 117 helicopters.
May 6/09: A $128.1 million firm fixed price, cost plus fixed fee contract. The contract will remanufacture 8 Army AH-64As into AH-64D Extended Block II+ models, reset to “zero flight hours” condition. This award also includes 2 United Arab Emirates (UAE) Longbow Crew Trainers (LCT), and various enhancements for the USA’s own LCT program. Options may be picked up later for additional helicopters, and/or another Longbow Crew Trainer for the USA.
Work is to be performed in Mesa, AZ (59%) and St. Louis, MO (41%) with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/13. One bid was solicited from the helicopters’ manufacturer, with one bid received (W58RGZ-06-C-0093).
Boeing representatives confirmed to DID that the total number of remanufactured aircraft ordered under the AH-64 Extended Block II contract is now 104. The 96 helicopters in the base contract were all ordered, and these 8 EBII+ helicopters are additive. Another order for 13 EBII+ helicopters is expected by the end of 2009 (but was placed in February 2010), which would bring the Extended Block II program’s total to 117 helicopters.
Oct 5/07: Boeing announces delivery of the first AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter built under this Extended Block II contract for the US Army.
Jan 9/07: A $469.8 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for the Extended Block II remanufacture program for the Apache Longbow Advanced Attack Helicopter. Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ and is expected to be complete by Dec. 31, 2010. This was a sole source contract initiated on Aug. 15/05 (W58RGZ-06-C-0093)
Boeing representatives confirmed to DID that the $1.15 billion figure in their Jan 18/07 release reflects the entire 126 helicopter contract for the USA and UAE, while the $469.8 million DefenseLINK announcement reflects only the first installment for the U.S. Army.
April 5/06: A $67.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for Remanufacturing of AH-64As and FMS AH-64As to AH-64D Apache Longbow Aircraft. This contract covers long lead-time items. Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ and is expected to be complete by Nov 30/06. This was a sole source contract initiated with the helicopter’s manufacturer on Aug 15/05 (W58RGZ-06-C-0093).
- DID/DII FOCUS – Apache Block III Program: The Once and Future Attack Helicopter
- DID – American AH-64D Apache: War Replacement Contracts
- DID – UAE’s 30-Helicopter Apache Upgrade Program Underway. Covers that part of the program specifically, including ancillary contracts.
- Boeing – AH-64 Apache
- Army Technology – AH-64A/D Apache Attack Helicopter, USA
- Global Security – AH-64 Apache
- DID (May 28/09) – Egypt Aims to Add AH-64D Block II Attack Helicopters. They’ve requested 12, to add to their 35-42 AH-64D Block Is.
- DID (began 2007, updated) – UAE’s 30-Helicopter Apache Upgrade Program Underway