$43.3M in Electronics Upgrades for Block II & Block III AH-64D Apache Longbows
The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL recently issued a pair of sole-source contracts to Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Co. in Mesa, AZ for electronics upgrades to the AH-64D Apache Longbow, including the first contract for the Block III models scheduled to debut in 2010. The Longbow is the most advanced attack helicopter in the U.S. arsenal, and is also in service with a number of other countries.
The first contract is a $16 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for Design, Development, and Integration of the AN/ARC-231 Radio into the AH-64D Extended Block II Aircraft. Block II focused on upgrades to the digital communications systems to improve communications within the ‘tactical internet’. Work will be performed in Mesa, Ariz., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2007. This was a sole source contract initiated on April 29, 2005 (W58RGZ-05-C-0279).
The second contract is a $27.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, provides FY05 funding for Exploration of the Open System Architecture Technology in the Apache Longbow AH-64D Aircraft, as part of the first production engineering contract with Boeing for Block III AH-64D Apache Longbows. Additional contracts, for further engineering and production work, are anticipated as the program matures.
The modernized AH-64 Apache Longbow Block III will be an important bridge to the future for the U.S. Army. The Block III helicopters will be designed to interface with today’s Stryker Brigade Combat Teams and Future Combat Systems with a fully compatible and rapidly reconfigurable open systems architecture mission processor design. Other anticipated benefits to the U.S. Army include improved aircraft flight performance, a reduced logistics footprint, improved readiness and deployability, and hence reduced operations and support costs.
Longbow Block III improvements, slated for 2008 on, incorporates 25 technology insertions, providing Network-Centric warfare capabilities in the multi-role combat helicopter as part of the Army’s future force plan. To enable battlespace dominance, the program will incoporate open systems architecture, wideband network communications, extended range sensing, extended range fire control radar, extended range missiles, and data fusion to merge off- and on-board sensor imagery. The Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS), which DID has covered, is scheduled to be part of this effort. So are enhanced engines and drive systems, the capability to control UAVs, and new composite rotor blade. The new blades, which successfully completed flight testing in May 2004, increase the Apache’s cruise speed, climb rate and payload capability.
Production of Block III Apaches is scheduled to begin in 2010, following completion of current Apache production work that has been on-going in Mesa, Ariz. since the Apache program began.
Work on this initial Block III contract will be performed in Mesa, AZ and is expected to be complete by Nov. 30, 2005. This was a sole source contract initiated on Jan. 26, 2005 (W58RGZ-05-C-0001). See also Boeing corporate release.