Israel must wait while Egypt upgrades Apaches
IDF Ground Forces Command is urging the Israeli MoD to request the acquisition of up to 40 AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters from the US, plus upgrades to the AH-64E configuration of its existing fleet of AH-64D Apache Longbows.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) operates a fleet of 63 AH-64Ds (designated Saraf) and older AH-64A (Peten) helicopters.
Despite a five-year follow-on contract being awarded to Boeing in April 2021, covering integrated logistics support for the Peten and Saraf fleets, IDF Ground Forces Command believes more advanced platforms are needed in view of lessons learned from recent combat in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.
News from neighbouring Egypt may also motivate the IDF to push hard for AH-64Es. On 10 January, Lockheed Martin announced that it has been awarded a $102 million contract to upgrade 25 Egyptian Air Force (EAF) AH-64Ds to the Guardian configuration.
According to Lockheed Martin, the upgrade work for the EAF includes the supply of its Gen III Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor and the Gen III Day Sensor Assembly (Gen III DSA).
The scope of this upgrade appears to be narrower than an FMS package for 43 Apaches that the US State Department approved in May 2020.
While Israel and Egypt have been at peace for more than 40 years, it is an article of faith for the IDF to maintain a qualitative military edge over its neighbours.
However, the Israeli plan cannot progress yet as the IAF has earmarked the lion’s share of its US-allocated Foreign Military Financing (FMF) budget to buy the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter and Boeing KC-46A Pegasus refuelling aircraft.
The Israeli MoD confirmed on 31 December that it had signed a deal for up to 18 King Stallions and two additional Pegasus aircraft, costing a total of about $3.1 billion in FMF funds.
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