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Guardian move for Emirati Apache force

Posted 3 May 2019 · Add Comment

The UAE is to procure nine new-build Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardians, and will upgrade eight of its existing AH-64D aircraft to the same standard, together with related equipment, training, and support, writes Jon Lake.

The $242 million contract has an estimated completion date of February 28, 2023.
Full-rate production on the AH-64E Guardian variant began in 2012. It features an upgraded Longbow fire control radar, more powerful engines, advanced avionics and enhanced night-vision capabilities.
The UAE’s Special Operations Command currently operates 28 AH-64D Apaches – converted from the 30 AH-64A helicopters purchased in 1991 and 1994 in an upgrade programme that began in 2008.
The UAE has a long-standing requirement for more Apaches, and to upgrade its aircraft to the latest AH-64E standard – originally known as the AH-64D Block III.
In 2010, the UAE Government requested a possible sale of 30 AH-64D Block III Apache helicopters and for an upgrade of its 30 existing AH-64D Block II lot 10 Apaches, which were to be remanufactured to AH-64D Block III configuration, giving a total fleet of 60 aircraft.
But it scaled back its requirement and, in December 2016, the US State Department approved a proposed sale of just nine new-build AH-64E helicopters, with 28 AH-64Ds to be re-manufactured to the same standard to give a fleet of 37 aircraft.
The latest US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) approval sees the nine new-build aircraft augmented by just eight AH-64D conversions.
It is not known whether the UAE plans to upgrade its remaining 20 Apaches to the same standard at a later date, or whether the procurement of 30 Northstar Aviation 407 MRH Lightning multi-role helicopters, and of large numbers of UH-60L and UH-60M Black Hawks, has reduced the requirement for Apaches.
It would seem unlikely that the remaining 20 AH-64Ds can remain in service for an extended period without some kind of upgrade, as obsolescence and diminishing manufacturing resources will start to make some systems increasingly difficult to support.
 

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