On Sept 9/08 The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced [PDF] an official request from Saudi Arabia for 12 AH-64D Block II Apache Longbow Helicopters, and associated items. The request, which could result in $598 million worth of contracts, would be used by the kingdom:
“…for its national security, and protecting its borders and oil infrastructure. The aircraft will provide the Saudi military more advanced targeting and engagement capabilities. The proposed sale will provide for the defense of vital installations and will provide close air support for the Saudi military ground forces. This sale also will increase the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) APACHE sustainability and interoperability with the U.S. Air Force, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and other coalition air forces.”
Saudi Arabia already has 12 AH-64A Apaches, in service with 2 Aviation Battalion at King Khalid Military City, in the country’s northeast near Kuwait. A $400 million August 2006 DSCA request would have upgraded those helicopters to AH-64D status, but DID has seen no follow-on contracts to that effect. This request involves new equipment, including:
On Sept 9/08, the US DSCA announced [PDF] Finland’s official request for the 3rd phase of its F-18 Mid-Life Upgrade Program to modernize its 63 F/A-18C and F/A-18D Hornet aircraft. The contract could be worth up to $406 million, and Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis, MO will be the prime contractor. Finland has already begun working to enhance its air force with LITENING targeting pods, modern AIM-120C-7 AMRAAM and AIM-9X Sidewinder air-air missiles, and other enhancements. Items requested in this notice include:
EADS subsidiary American Eurocopter LLC recently announced a win in the US Department of Homeland Security’s Light Enforcement Helicopter (LEH) contract. This maximum $150 million indefinite-quantity/ indefinite-delivery contract will provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection with up to 50 more AS350B3 helicopters. It begins with an initial order of 17 AS350B3s, and is structured as a base year and 4 one-year options. The first AS350B3 helicopter is to be delivered in 2009, ramping up to a target delivery schedule of one AS350B3 every 45 days. The helicopters will be built at American Eurocopter’s Mississippi facility, which also assembles the UH-72 Lakota Light Utility Helicopter for the US Army.
The AS350 Ecureuil/AStar is a single-engine helicopter, unlike the twin-engine AS355 which is promoted as a safer option over cities. Nevertheless, the A350B3 version packs enough power that it became the first helicopter to land on Mount Everest. It is popular in the USA, in service with the FBI, DEA, Department of Justice, and a wide array of police departments, and other state and federal agencies. The helicopter pictured above, for instance, serves with the California Highway Patrol (note to readers: never call them “CHiPS”).