US Army Apaches for Auction?
America’s AH-64 Apache helicopter fleet has seen heavy use in recent years, because it’s one of the few platforms capable of flying slowly enough to escort battlefield helicopters through dangerous areas. American, Dutch, and British AH-64s have played especially important roles over Afghanistan, and US Army Apaches have also played a role in Iraq alongside Italian A129 Mangustas, Polish Mi-24s, and lighter OH-58D Kiowa Warrior scout helicopters. As of November 2006, the American Apache fleet had racked up over 2 million flying hours, with over 25% of that logged since 2001.
Nothing lasts forever, which means decisions must be made regarding the future size of America’s attack helicopter force, and the accompanying reset and recapitalization required. “American AH-64D Apache: War Replacement Contracts” offers a breakdown of Apache production and conversion as of July 2008, but even the forthcoming AH-64D Block III upgrade program will leave some helicopters untouched. One option currently on the table appears to be auctioning some of them off to allies, improving their capabilities while offering industrial opportunities for refurbishment and upgrades…
Jan 16/09: No real progress yet. Defense News reports that DAPA has had discussions, but even the feasibility study for this buy isn’t expected until later this month. The report adds that U.S. Forces Korea’s November 2008 announcement that it will remove 24 Apache helicopters in March 2009, for rotation to Iraq or Afghanistan, is also focusing South Korean attention.
DAPA reportedly wants to receive the first batch of 18 Block II Apache Longbow models modified from the Block I standard in 2012, and the second batch in 2014.
Sept 14/08: South Korea’s Yonhap News reports that the USA has offered to sell 36 used Apache attack helicopters to South Korea at less than 60% of the out-of-factory price, with upgrades to Block III status plus include a new frame and engines, resetting their life span to 10,000 flight hours.
The deal, if signed, is expected to be worth around $811 million. Its size is causing hesitation in Korea, which needs to replace its aging fleet of 50 x 500MD TOW Defender light attack helicopters [picture] and has backed off of its previous plans for an indigenous attack helicopter program. Politics is an uncertain game, and dates are rarely dependable, but a government decision is expected by the end of the 2008. Seoul Times article.
May 27/08: According to the Korea Times, US Army Col. Kevin W. Madden, who is chief of the Joint U.S. Military Affairs Group-Korea (JUSMAG-K), has created interest in Korea by mentioning that the US government plans to put 260 of its Block I Apache helicopters up for sale to allies. South Korea is apparently considering buying 36 of these Apaches with a total price tag of 1 trillion won ($960 million) to replace the Army’s aging AH-1 Cobra attack choppers Madden added that:
“I have been briefed that there will be options for international customers to refurbish or completely rebuild the helicopters in the customer’s preferred configuration all the way up to [AH-64D] Block III Longbow models.”