Boeing has marked delivery of 500 AH-64E Longbow Apache attack helicopter, as the U.S. aerospace giant continues to eye further export opportunities.

Terry Jamison, director of international vertical lift sales for Boeing, told reporters during a conference call that 2,485 Apache helicopters have been delivered since production of the original AH-64A kicked off in the 1980s, with the type in use with 16 customers and 10 others interested in potentially acquiring it.

Boeing is keen on Australia’s LAND 4503 requirement to replace the Australian Army’s Airbus Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters, and Jamison was keen to talk up the Apache’s capabilities, highlighting the mast-mounted Lockheed Martin Longbow fire-control radar to detect, identify, and attack beyond-line-of-sight targets.

The Apache can detect and classify up to 256 targets, and then offload this data to other units, allowing them to engage the threats using its networked capability.

“This is essential when you’re going against an integrated defence network on the battlefield,” Jamison says. “Because their defence network can’t get line of sight on you, this greatly increases your survivability against that system. Although we’ve seen it do great things in the counter-insurgency role, it was originally designed to fight high-intensity, sophisticated threats.”

Jamison also highlighted its utility in littoral and marine environment, again likely with LAND 4503 in mind given Australia’s interest in operating the Longbow off its Canberra-class Landing Helicopter Docks (LHDs).

Jamison touted the radar’s built-in capability to detect and classify vessels at sea, and Boeing has previously said Australia will be offered the latest Version 6 of the Longbow radar, which features improvements over older versions of the radar.

The radar upgrades were driven in part by customer feedback, with South Korea and Japan having previous reported to be unhappy with the performance of the radar, particularly in littoral and mountainous environments.

The Version 6 Longbow radar will be available for existing AH-64E customers as part of a suite of upgrades, although the older Longbow-capable AH-64D model will need to be upgraded to E-standard to accept the new radar upgrades.

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Kym Bergmann
Kym Bergmann is the editor for Asia Pacific Defence Reporter (APDR) and Defence Review Asia (DRA). He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism and the defence industry. After graduating with honours from the Australian National University, he joined Capital 7 television, holding several positions including foreign news editor and chief political correspondent. During that time he also wrote for Business Review Weekly, undertaking analysis of various defence matters.After two years on the staff of a federal minister, he moved to the defence industry and held senior positions in several companies, including Blohm+Voss, Thales, Celsius and Saab. In 1997 he was one of two Australians selected for the Thomson CSF 'Preparation for Senior Management' MBA course. He has also worked as a consultant for a number of companies including Raytheon, Tenix and others. He has served on the boards of Thomson Sintra Pacific and Saab Pacific.


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