After the Australian defense ministry announced it had selected Boeing’s Apache attack helicopter as the Australian Army’s armed reconnaissance helicopter (ARH), the US State Department approved the sale of 29 Apaches and related equipment to Australia for an estimated $3.5 billion.
In January this year, Australia selected the Apache over the AH-1Z Viper offered by Bell and BAE Systems Australia to replace the Airbus-delivered Tiger helicopters currently in service from 2025.
According to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the $3.5 billion price tag includes T700-GE 701D engines, radars, and target acquisition and missile warning systems. Also included are AGM-114R Hellfire missiles, APKWS-GS laser-guided rockets, and 2.75 inch rockets.
It should be noted that the proposed sale, which is yet to be finalized, includes manned unmanned teaming-2 (MUMT-X) video receivers and manned unmanned teaming-2 (MUMT-X) air-air-ground kits.
The MUMT ability of the AH-64E models that are being purchased by Australia provides Level of Interoperability 4 to the crew. This allows crewmembers to receive unmanned aerial systems (UAS) video in the cockpit, control UAS sensors and direct the flight path of the UAS.
AH-64E features multiple upgrades compared to earlier models, 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.
In addition to several international operators of the AH-64E, the UK and the Netherlands are upgrading their AH-64Ds to the AH-64E configuration.
Australia expects to reach full operating capability with the Apache by 2029.
Thanks to the great number of users and the number of aircraft built, the Apache is expected to offer improved sustainment options compared to the Tiger helicopters, which had proven difficult to maintain for the Australian Army due the small size of the international fleet.