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Royal Netherlands Air Force receives first upgraded v6 Apache from Boeing

First Dutch v6 Apache
Photo: Boeing

The Royal Netherlands Air Force has officially taken delivery of its first AH-64D Apache that has been upgraded to the AH-64E Version 6 (v6) configuration by Boeing.

The first upgraded attack helicopter was rolled out at Boeing’s Mesa, Arizona, facility in a ceremony on Monday, after the Dutch shipped the first three units to the US for the overhaul in 2020. One of them suffered damage in a storm during a scheduled stopover in Reading, Pennsylvania, while en route to the Boeing facility.

Boeing is upgrading the Dutch helicopters under a 2019 foreign military sale contract to remanufacture 28 RNLAF AH-64 D-model Apaches to the advanced AH-64E v6. Delivery for the final E-model Apache to the country is targeted for 2025, while the first airframe is expected to arrive in the Netherlands in mid-2023.

“The Apache is the most advanced and proven attack helicopter, and demand for it continues to increase worldwide,” said Kathleen Jolivette, vice president of Attack Helicopter Programs and Senior Mesa Site Executive at Boeing. “By upgrading from the D-model to the E-model Apache, the Royal Netherlands Air Force will gain a significant increase in attack power, versatility and situational awareness for decades to come.”

The Dutch have operated D-model Apaches since 1998. The remanufactured E-model Apaches will be able to operate with the RNLAF until the 2050s.

The Apache 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.

Photo: Dutch defense ministry

“It is an honor to receive the first remanufactured Apache Echo. This updated attack helicopter is a great improvement and gives the Royal Netherlands Air Force more combat power and situational awareness. This first delivery is an important step in modernizing our entire Apache fleet,” said Vice Admiral Arie Jan de Waard, the Director of the Defence Materiel Organisation.

Boeing says it has delivered over 2,600 Apaches to the US Army and 17 international customers since 1984. Currently, there are more than 1,260 Apaches operating worldwide with more than 665 representing the E-model.