By David Pugliese
Boeing’s Apache helicopter has become the mainstay for rotary close air support on the modern battlefield for the U.S. and some of its allies. That presence is now expanding.
In mid-July, the U.S. and United Kingdom signed a deal that will see Boeing deliver 50 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters to the British Army. The first helicopters will be built by 2020. Flight operations with the British Army would begin two years later.
In addition, in early June, the U.S. government announced that Qatar will acquire 24 AH-64E Apache helicopters.
Boeing also received in April a significant contract from the U.S. Army. That will see 117 AH-64D Apaches remanufactured to the new AH-64E model. The agreement, which also includes the acquisition of Longbow Crew Trainers, logistical support and spares, carries a total contract value of about $1.5-billion U.S., according to Boeing.
That work is being done at the Apache production facility in Mesa, Arizona. The work will be completed in May 2018.
Jesse Farrington, senior manager for Apache Global Sales and Marketing, told Esprit
de Corps earlier this year during a tour of the Mesa facilities, that the U.S. has made it clear it has a long-term commitment to the Apache. “Right now the U.S. Army is saying that they will be flying these aircraft to 2060,” he explained. “Customers around the world will benefit from that.”
Besides the U.S. Army, Apaches are in service with the militaries of South Korea, the Netherlands, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Israel, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Greece, Japan, and Taiwan.
The helicopter entered production in the mid-1980s and more than 2,100 have been delivered to the U.S. Army and allied defence forces. The U.S. Army has stated it plans to acquire 690 AH-64E Apaches, 290 of which are now under contract with the award announced in April, Boeing officials pointed out.
The U.S. Army is also developing an update for the AH-64E that it hopes will be ready by 2018. That would include improved fire control radar, a boost in the speed of onboard processing, and an expansion of the ability to communicate with troops on the ground, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles.
Provincial Aerospace Ltd. (PAL) and CarteNav Solutions Inc. announced August 8 that they have entered into an agreement under which PAL has acquired CarteNav.
CarteNav is a Nova Scotia-based software developer that provides situational awareness and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) solutions for maritime, land, and air environments.
Its flagship product is AIMS-ISR, which is being used in more than 30 countries around the world, the two firms pointed out in their news release. “There are many synergies between our two companies as we are each leaders in our specific segments of the ISR market,” Brian Chafe, CEO of PAL Aerospace, noted in a statement. “Together we look forward to enhancing the product and service offerings we are each able to offer.”
L-3 Communications says its WESCAM Division has received multiple orders from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) for its MX-15D electro-optical and infrared designator systems. The orders are for an undisclosed international military customer. L-3’s equipment will support medium-altitude covert ISR missions carried out by GA-ASI’s Predator XP remotely piloted aircraft system, L-3 said in its news release.
Deliveries to GA-ASI in California began earlier this year, the firm added. Once fielded, the systems will be maintained by one of L-3 WESCAM’s 14 authorized service centers.
Meanwhile, L-3 also announced Canada has awarded L-3’s MAS Division a contract to provide engineering, repair and overhaul, and publication management services on the CT-114 Tutor aircraft demonstration fleet. This two-year contract will run from 2016 to 2018 and includes three additional option years, the firm noted.
“As the OEM of the aircraft, we are excited that this contract will provide us with the opportunity to demonstrate our exceptional ISS capabilities,” Jacques Comtois, vice president and general manager of L-3 MAS, said in a statement. “With our extensive CT-114 experience and versatile expertise, we are proud to offer the most cost-effective and technically superior solutions to keep the fleet airborne over the coming years.”
Top Aces Corp. says it recently completed German Army Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) training support. Top Aces TA-4J Skyhawks flew multiple sorties and successfully completed all scheduled JTAC training events for German Army personnel on training ranges near Boise, Idaho, the firm added.
Directed by controllers, Top Aces says its pilots flew close air support missions, simulating the delivery of munitions in close proximity to friendly forces.
Rheinmetall will supply the Royal Canadian Navy with decoy ammunition for the next 30 years.
Rheinmetall and General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems–Canada have recently signed a licence agreement to produce Omnitrap decoy ammunition for the RCN.
The contract encompasses the supply of core components by Rheinmetall for Omnitrap decoy ammunition, the company’s news release pointed out. Rheinmetall will provide technical assistance in setting up the assembly line at the General Dynamics facility in Répentigny, Que., where final assembly will take place.
Rheinmetall pointed out that in 2009 it won a contract to outfit 12 Canadian Halifax-class frigates with MASS (Multi-Ammunition Softkill System), an automated decoy system which offers protection against incoming anti-ship missiles.
Most Canadian Halifax-class frigates have been equipped with MASS systems along with a basic load of Omnitrap and MASS Dueras decoy ammunition, the firm noted.
In 2015, Canada placed an order for 2,450 Omnitrap decoy rounds with Rheinmetall and General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems–Canada.
The newly signed agreement will continue this supply relationship as well as the support that both companies provide the Canadian government for the next 30 years, according to Rheinmetall.
Field Aviation says it has delivered the third of four missionized Challenger aircraft to Cobham Aviation Services. These aircraft are to provide enhanced search and rescue capabilities in support of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s (AMSA) operations, according to Field Aviation. The firm noted that it designed, installed, flight tested, and certified structural, electrical and aerodynamic changes to the aircraft.
Esterline CMC Electronics has been awarded a contract by Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. to supply its cockpit avionics for eight PC-21 turboprop trainer aircraft. Those planes are for the Royal Jordanian Air Force. Esterline CMC said it will supply the cockpit displays, dual flight management systems and GPS landing system sensors as well as the head-up display sub-system.
Esterline CMC Electronics has also been awarded a contract by Pilatus Aircraft to supply its advanced cockpit avionics for the Royal Australian Air Force fleet of 49 PC-21 turboprop trainer aircraft.
The Canadian government has awarded Lockheed Martin a $14.5-million contract to provide long-term support for the Submarine Fire Control System (SFCS) installed on all four Victoria-class submarines and land-based team trainers. The scope of the contract will contain in service and field service support, obsolescence management, and technical investigations as requested by DND, according to Lockheed Martin.
The work on this program will be conducted at Lockheed Martin’s facilities in Manassas, Virginia and Dartmouth, NS, and via field service support at Canadian forces bases Halifax and Esquimalt.