On August 27th the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced that the UK have requested the remanufacturing of the British Army Air Corps’ fleet of WAH-64D Apache AH.1 aircraft to a standard equivelent to the US Army’s AH-64E Guardian. The current British aircraft are built to AH-64D Block-I standard and to bring them up to the new standard the aircraft will receive refurbished AN/ASQ-170 Modernized Target Acquisition and Designation Sights (M-TADSs), AN/AAR-11 Modernized Pilot Night Vision Sensors (PNVSs), Northrop Grumman AN/APG-78 mast-mounted fire control radars and additional flight systems. The WAH-64D’s powerplant, the Rolls-Royce RTM 322, will be replaced by the General Electric T-700-GE-701D which is what powers the American aircraft.
The Army Air Corps’ current fleet of 50 WAH-64D helicopters have increasingly suffered obsolescence issues due to many of the aircraft’s transistor chips no longer being in production. To retain its attack helicopter capability to the planned out-of-service date of at least 2040 the Ministry of Defence (MoD) instigated an Apache Helicopter Capability Sustainment project that looked at several options including procuring new build AH-64E Guardians. Now however the UK looks set to have their aircraft completely rebuilt to the new standard which has raised a few quizzical eyebrows in Washington. Boeing offered new build AH-64E Guardian’s to the UK earlier this year at a unit cost of $31m however current estimates at the cost of remanufacturing the UK’s existing fleet of aircraft look set to be double that figure. While at this early stage it is unclear why the MoD seem to be taking the more expensive option it has been suggested that there are long term savings to be made this way.