The Dutch Armed Forces have shipped the first three Apache helicopters to the United States, where they will be upgraded from the AH-64D to the AH-64E configuration.
The fleet is scheduled to arrive at the port of Baltimore on the US east coast on December 4. From there, the transport goes to Huntsville, Alabama. The last stop is manufacturer Boeing in Mesa, Arizona.
The Apaches are scheduled to undergo what is called a “remanufacture procedure”, a process that takes about 2 years. All 28 Apaches operated by the Netherlands will complete the rebuild in the coming years. The upgraded helicopters will return to the Netherlands from mid-2023 to early 2025.
In addition to receiving upgraded systems, the overhaul will allow the Dutch Apaches to remain in service until the 2050s.
The upgrades are part of a $1 billion agreement signed between the Netherlands and the US Army in 2018. Disassembly of the D-model aircraft will take place in Huntsville, Alabama, but the actual upgrade itself will take place in Mesa, Arizona. The principal contractors are Boeing Company and Lockheed Martin.
The Apaches E model introduces a modernized fire control radar, better sensors and data links and increased power.
According to the US Army, the E-model has multiple upgrades from its predecessors such as the improved Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision System (MTADS/PNVS). This system includes a new integrated infrared laser that allows for easier target designation and enhanced infrared imagery which blends both infrared and night vision capabilities. The E-model also has an updated Small Tactical Terminal radio that includes the LINK 16 capability required to communicate in a joint environment.
The updated Fire Control Radar has the ability to operate in a maritime mode, enabling the Apache to be an integral asset in most environments. The Manned-Unmanned Teaming ability of the E-model fleet provides Level of Interoperability 4 to Apache crews. This provides Apache crewmembers the ability to receive Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) video in the Apache cockpit, control UAS sensors and direct the flight path of the UAS.