British Army starts AH-64E attack helicopter flight tests
New Apache AH-64E attack helicopters belonging to the British Army have entered flight tests ahead of plans to introduce the aircraft to frontline operations.
A total of 14 aircraft have been delivered to Wattisham Flying Station, Suffolk, as part of a $2.3 billion order from the UK MoD for a fleet of 50 remanufactured Echo types.
Manufactured to the US Army AH-64E Apache Guardian V6 standard, the British Army helicopters feature new drivetrains and rotor blades and come fitted with a 16km Longbow Fire Control Radar; a radar frequency interferometer passive ranging capability and a Modernized Day Sensor Assembly with colour displays.
As Shephard previously reported, the UK also requested two specific aircraft modifications from the US Army V6 version — a windscreen wash system to reduce sea spray and an individual defensive aids system (an evolution of the system used on the AH Mk1 fleet).
The remaining 36 helicopters on order are expected to be delivered by Boeing before the summer of 2024, the UK MoD confirmed in a 21 January statement.
The Echo variants replace the army's legacy AH Mk1 fleet.
A 20 year agreement has also been signed with Boeing UK for AH-64E support and maintenance purposes.
'Under the new £287 million Long Term Training and Support Services (LTTSS) contract, Boeing will work closely with the British Army to provide maintenance and engineering support, supply chain and logistics management at Wattisham,' the manufacturer said in a 21 January statement. 'Boeing will also deliver aircrew and maintainer training from its advanced facility at Middle Wallop.'
More from Defence Helicopter
Brazilian armed forces training has been given a significant boost with a new order for Airbus H125 helicopters.
Poland aims to order three times as many AH-64E attack helicopters as previously expected.
Leonardo hopes to persuade the UK MoD that a range of AW149 survivability-related items makes the helicopter the best fit for the New Medium Helicopter programme.
Lockheed Martin is providing additional M-TADS/PNVS components and hardware for the AH-64 Apache.
The USAF has taken acceptance of four MH-139A Grey Wolf helicopters for developmental testing following earlier trials after Military Flight Release.